Robert Lustig MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, he explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that too much fructose and not enough fiber appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.
Lustig said that the last 30 years have seen an onslaught of sugar and dwindling of fiber in the food environment which is a deadly combination for consumers who have been duped by the food industry. His 2009 lecture "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," has now been viewed 3,850,000 times on youtube. You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM&list=TL8lMbN4dKkvs.
Now he has brought the battle in the supermarket with his new e-book, "Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide." This e-book guide is meant for smartphones or tablets that you can view while shopping your groceries. It provides consumers with a new nutrition label for hundreds of processed foods that concentrate on sugar. From soy milk to sausage, and Sara Lee to supermarket brands, the data delineates the quality and quantity of sugar in products. Why the distinction? Because, as the book's title indicates, sugar goes by varied names - from fructose to fruit juice, and these derivatives differ greatly in how they're processed by the body.
"By paying attention to the sugar portion of the label people can do better in terms of making their own decisions," Lustig says.
Lustig said that it's not just the issue of obesity but the risk of metabolic diseases, which includes diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, cancer and dementia. And sugar, he says, is a big part of the problem.
He gave readers with some interesting directives: don't go to the supermarket hungry; shop along the perimeter of the supermarket where fresh, whole foods abound; if it comes with a logo you've heard of, it's been processed; avoid anything "partially hydrogenated" it will outlive you,"; just because it says "whole grain" doesn't mean it is, but if it doesn't say whole grain it isn't; if sugar is listed among the first three ingredients, it's dessert.
For his part, there's "no such thing as a sugared beverage" in his home. "We have milk, we have water and occasionally we have some alcoholic drinks when we have friends over," he says. "There is no reason to drink your calories." To ensure sufficient fiber, the Lustigs have salad with every meal, which typically consists of a protein and green vegetables and whole-grain bread instead of white rice, pasta and potatoes. For dessert, it's whole fruit, except for weekends, when they treat their daughters, ages 8 and 14, to something "a little more elaborate," he says.
"We have to get back to dessert being once a week, not once a meal," Lustig says. As he writes, "Sugar is reward. Sugar is fun, but if every meal is fun, then no meal is fun. And I promise, you won't be having fun taking your insulin shots while you're on dialysis."
To change the food culture, and the food supply, he encourages consumers to vote with their mouths and wallets. "We, as a society, have to reduce availability, and we cannot do that right now without the food industry helping us do it," he says. "If you won't buy it, they won't sell it."