The Bitter Truth About Sugar by Robert Lustig (Full Transcript)

Oh, you say, oh yes, sure I know some adults who don’t care. You know Rossini, the famous composer, he retired at age 37 to a lifetime of gastronomic debauchery. Okay, maybe he chose to be obese. But the kids I take care of an obesity clinic do not choose to be obese. In fact, this is the exception that proves the rule. We have an epidemic of obese six-month olds.

Now if you want to say that it’s all about diet and exercise, then you have to explain this to me. So any hypothesis that you want to proffer that explains the obesity epidemic, you’ve got to explain this one too. And this is not just in America, the six-month old obese kids but these are around the world now. So you’re your minds and let’s go and figure out what the real story is.

Calorie intake & leptin

Now let’s talk about calorie intake, because that’s what today is about. We’re going to talk about the energy intake side of the equation. Sure enough we are all eating more now than we did 20 years ago. Teen boys are eating 275 calories more. American adult males are eating 187 calories more per day. American adult females are eating 335 calories more per day. No question. We’re all eating more. Question is why? How come? Because it’s all there, you know what it was there before. We’re all eating more.

There is a system in our body which you’ve heard about over the last couple of weeks called leptin. It’s a hormone that comes from your fat cell, tells your brain “You know what, I’ve had enough. I don’t need to eat anymore. I am done and I can burn energy properly”. Well, you know what, if you’re eating 187 or 335 calories more today than you were 20 years ago, your leptin ain’t working, because if it were, you wouldn’t be doing it whether the food was there or not.

So there’s something wrong with our biochemical negative feedback system that normally controls energy balance. And we have to figure out what caused it and how to reverse it, and that’s what tonight is about. But nonetheless there are 275 calories we have to account for. So where are they? Are they in the fat? No, they are not in the fat. 5 grams 45 calories out of the 275, nothing. In fact, it’s all in the carbohydrate. 57 grams, 228 calories, we’re all eating more carbohydrate. Now you all know back in 1982, the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association and the US Department of Agriculture admonished us to reduce our total fat consumption from 40% to 30%. Everybody remember that? That’s how Entenmann’s fat-free cakes came into being.

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So what happened? We did it. We’ve done it. 40% down to 30% and look what’s happened to the obesity metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke prevalence, all jacked way up as our total fat consumption as a percent has gone down. It ain’t the fat people. It ain’t the fat. So what is it? Well, it’s the carbohydrate. Specifically, which carbohydrate? Well, beverage intake – 41% increase in soft drinks, 35% increase in fruit drinks, fruit aids, whatever you want to call them. Just remember down here, one can of soda a day is 150 calories, multiply that by 365 days a year and then divide that by the magic number of 3500 calories per pound, if you eat or drink 3500 calories more than you burn, you will gain 1 pound of fat. And that’s the first law of thermodynamics. No argument there. That’s worth 15.5 pounds of fat per year. One soda a day is 15.5 pounds per year. Now you’ve all heard that before. That’s not news to you.

The question is, how come we don’t respond? How come leptin doesn’t work? How come we can’t stay energy stable? That’s what we’re going to get to.

Coca-Cola conspiracy

So I call this slide very specifically the Coca-Cola conspiracy. Anybody here work for Coke? Pepsi? Okay, good. All right. So this over here – 1915 the first standardized bottle of Coca-Cola out of Atlanta. Anybody remember this bottle? I remember this bottle because my grandfather in Brooklyn took me on Saturday afternoon down to the local soda shop on Avenue M and Ocean Avenue and every Saturday afternoon I have one of these. I remember very well.

Now if you drank one of those everyday assuming of course that the recipe hasn’t changed, because after all only two people in the world know the recipe and they’re not allowed to fly in the plane at the same time, right, you know that? Assuming the recipe hasn’t changed, if you drank one of those everyday for a year, 6.5 pounds, that will be worth 8 pounds of fat per year.

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Now in 1955 after World War II and sugar became plentiful, again it wasn’t being rationed, we have the appearance of the 10-ounce bottle – the first one that was found in vending machines. You probably remember that one as well. Then in 1960 the ever ubiquitous 12-ounce can worth 16 pounds of fat per year, and of course today this over here is a single unit of measure, 20 ounces, anybody know how many servings are in that bottle? 2.58 ounce servings, that’s right. Anybody know anybody who gets 2.58 servings out of that bottle? That’s a single serving. So that will be worth 26 pounds of fat per year if you did that everyday and then of course over here we have the 7-Eleven Big K, Thirst Buster, Big Gulp whatever you want to call it, 44 ounces worth 57 pounds of fat per year and if that wasn’t bad enough, my colleague Dr. Dan Hale at the University of Texas, San Antonio tells me that down there they got a Texas sized Big Gulp. 60 ounces of Coca-Cola, a Snickers bar and a bag of Doritos all for $0.99. If you did that everyday for a year, that would be worth 112 pounds of fat per year.

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