Robert Lustig: ‘A Calorie Is Not a Calorie’

[ 0 ] June 29, 2013 |

Obesity was recently classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. But the main cause of obesity is the brain’s inability to recognize the hormone, Leptin, says Robert Lustig, an American pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, where he is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics.

Lustig is also the author of the prominent book Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, where he proves that “a calorie is not a calorie.” He says: “if your brain can see your Leptin, you’re not obese because you will burn off the extra energy; but if your brain can’t see Leptin you’re going to keep gaining weight because your brain thinks you’re starving.”

Watch genConnect interview Dr. Robert Lustig at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival, as talks about obesity with healthcare, hormones, and the dangers of too much sugar: 

Watch: Obesity Crisis: “It’s a Messy Business” to Get America Healthy


Robert Lustig, left, with genConnect’s Baruch Shemtov

It’s not the number of calories we eat, but what kind of calories we eat, Lustig says. The main culprit for leptin resistance is overconsumption of sugar, as it causes insulin resistance which, “blocks leptin signaling.” According to Lustig, the excessive consumption of sugar is occurring on such a massive scale and we can’t reduce it because, “600,000 items in the American food supply, eighty percent of them are spiked with added sugar and, of that sugar, one-half of it is in foods we didn’t even know had it.” Fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is healthy to consume because the fiber content in fruit slows the absorption of sugar.

Related: How We Can Reduce Obesity, Improve Healthcare

Dr. Lustig is obviously very passionate about improving the quality of food in America, which is why he is also president of the nonprofit organization Institute for Responsible Nutrition, a think tank devoted to improving our food supply. He believes sugar is, “the most pervasive, and yet actionable, item in our food supply that has to be addressed.”

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2013

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About Robert Lustig: Robert H. Lustig, M.D. is Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, and Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF. Dr. [...]
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