Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

by Robert H. Lustig

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New York Times Bestseller

Robert Lustig’s 90-minute YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, has been viewed more than three million times. Now, in this much anticipated book, he documents the science and the politics that has led to the pandemic of chronic disease over the last 30 years.

In the late 1970s when the government mandated we get the fat out of our food, the food industry responded by pouring more sugar in. The result has been a perfect storm, disastrously altering our biochemistry and driving our eating habits out of our control.

To help us lose weight and recover our health, Lustig presents personal strategies to readjust the key hormones that regulate hunger, reward, and stress; and societal strategies to improve the health of the next generation. Compelling, controversial, and completely based in science, Fat Chance debunks the widely held notion to prove “a calorie is NOT a calorie”, and takes that science to its logical conclusion to improve health worldwide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101606582
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/27/2012
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 179,172
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert H. Lustig, M.D., MSL, is professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco. He has authored 120 peer-reviewed articles and 70 reviews, as well as The Fat Chance Cookbook and the upcoming The Hacking of the American Mind. He has mentored 30 pediatric endocrine fellows and trained numerous other allied health professionals. He is the former chairman of the Obesity Task Force of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, a member of the Obesity Task Force of the Endocrine Society, and a member of the Pediatric Obesity Devices Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is also the president of the nonprofit Institute for Responsible Nutrition, dedicated to reversing childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. He consults for several childhood obesity advocacy groups and government agencies.

Read an Excerpt

The Mediterranean Diet

Pioppi, a small town in Italy, is the home of the Mediterranean diet. In Ancel Keys' Seven Countries study (Italy was one of the countries), this diet was associated with lower death rates from heart disease. The diet was popularized in America due to its population's low incidence of disease and long lifespan. Unfortunately, Pioppi and many surrounding areas that originally consumed a peasant fare can no longer afford to do so. Processed food is more readily available and cheaper. These areas, once renowned for their health, have soaring rates of obesity in part due to a current lack of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables from their diets. These items are just too expensive, and they don't taste as good.

Here's what's in the real Mediterranean diet: high olive oil consumption (mono-unsaturated fat); legumes (beans, lentils, peas); fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains (fiber); dairy products (saturated fat); eggs (high-quality protein); fish (omega-3s); and wine in moderation (resveratrol, flavonoids, and likely other factors). Americans misunderstand the Mediterranean diet, because they think it is all about pasta, which is Italian but not Mediterranean. Because what the Italians used to eat in Italy is not what the Italians eat in the United States. The pasta and pizza movement actually started in the United States within the poor Italian immigrant population, based on the cost of carbohydrates versus meat. That diet then migrated over to Italy. And now the Italians have our problem.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Time to Think Outside the Box xi

Part I The Greatest Story Ever Sold

1 A Fallacy of Biblical Proportion 3

2 A Calorie Is a Calorie-or Is It? 9

3 Personal Responsibility versus the Obese Six-Month-Old 22

Part II To Eat or Not to Eat? That's Not the Question

4 Gluttony and Sloth-Behaviors Driven by Hormones 33

5 Food Addiction-Fact or Fallacy 48

6 Stress and "Comfort Food" 64

Part III "Chewing" the Fat

7 The Birth, Care, and Feeding of a Fat Cell 75

8 The Difference Between "Fat" and "Sick" 85

9 Metabolic Syndrome: The New Scourge 93

Part IV The "Real" Toxic Environment

10 The Omnivore's Curse: Low Fat versus Low Carb 105

11 Fructose-The "Toxin" 117

12 Fiber-Half the Antidote 130

13 Exercise-The Other Half of the Antidote 139

14 Micronutrients: Home Run or Hyperbole? 150

15 Environmental "Obesogens" 158

16 The "Empire" Strikes Back: Response of the Food Industry 166

Part V The Personal Solution

17 Altering Your Food Environment 183

18 Altering Your Hormonal Environment 209

19 Last Resorts: When Altering Your Environment Isn't Enough 218

Part VI The Public Health Solution

20 The "Nanny State": Personal versus Societal Responsibility 229

21 What Hath Government Wrought? 239

22 A Call for Global Sugar Reduction 255

Epilogue: Not a Top-Down but a Bottom-Up Movement 272

Acknowledgments 277

Notes 281

Glossary 303

Index 307

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“No scientist has done more in the last fifty years to alert Americans to the potential dangers of sugar in the diet than Dr. Robert Lustig.” 
—Gary Taubes,author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat
“Our eating habits are killing us. In this timely and important book, Dr. Robert Lustig presents the scientific evidence for the toxicity of sugar and the disastrous effects of modern industrial food on the hormones that control hunger, satiety, and weight. He gives recommendations for a personal solution to the problem we face and also suggests a public policy solution. Fat Chance is the best book I've read on the relationship between diet and health and the clearest explanation of epidemic obesity in our society.”
Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Happiness and You Can’t Afford to Get Sick
Fat Chance is THE manifesto for our time. It reveals the real reasons we why we are a fat nation and how to cure the obesity epidemic.  It gets right to the root of the problem, which is not gluttony and sloth, as the food industry, government and your neighbor would have you believe.  It is because we are drowning in a sea of sugar which poisons our metabolism, shrinks our brains, and threatens our national security and global competitiveness.  Every American, politician, teacher, and business leader must read this book.  Our nation's future depends on it.” 
 —Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The Blood Sugar Solution
“Fat Chance is an extraordinary achievement. Obesity's causes, mechanisms, health consequences, and preventive approaches are all devilishly complicated, but Dr. Lustig's outstanding contribution clarifies the complexity via a writing style that's accessible, insightful, and often gently humorous. Robert Lustig is a clinician, a scientist, and an advocate — a combination that that makes him uniquely qualified to bring the condition's many facets into sharp focus. Obesity has become the world's number one health problem. Fat Chance is the book for all of us who must confront this epidemic.”
S. Boyd Eaton, M.D., Departments of Radiology and Anthropology, Emory University, and father of the Paleo Diet movement
“Robert Lustig is neither ringing an alarm bell nor giving us a gentle, paternalistic nudge. His message is more authentic. He is a medical doctor issuing a prescription. In order to address a current cocktail of health threats, Americans must alter their diets and do so radically. Those alterations must begin with a dramatic reduction in the consumption of sugars.”
Alec Baldwin
“The obesity pandemic is well documented. But what can be done about it? More importantly, when does a personal health issue rise to become a public health crisis? In Fat Chance, Dr. Robert Lustig examines the science of obesity to determine the role that our current diet (especially too much sugar and too little fiber) plays in weight gain and disease. Using that knowledge, he proposes changes in our personal, public, and governmental attitudes to combat this scourge. Fat Chance is a 'savory' read with a 'sweet' finish.”
—Sanjay Gupta, M.D.,neurosurgeon and CNN medical correspondent

Customer Reviews

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Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an oustanding eye opener about how dependent we have become on sugar in our everyday diets and how our health is being effected by it. I bought the book and couldn't put it down. It is very well written and the science and patient studies really prove how our children are suffering from sugar  which is present in most of our food. This is a "must read book"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most of us think of sugar as benign, empty calories. Cookies, cake, candy...delicious treats in moderation...that's what we think, right? NOT! How about toxic? How about orange juice is higher on the clycemic index than Coke? A must-read for all, especially parents. The addictions are real! Food producersm know the magic formula for ensnaring us...and they know that once trapped, you'll have the fight of your life to break free.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book and I had a hard time putting it down. It is heavy into biochemistry but Dr. Lustig does a great job of putting this into terms for the layperson. I'm so thrilled to hear someone from mainstream medicine confirm that there are hormonal impacts from our environment. This isn't new but I believe that it is often overlooked. This will change how I eat and how I guide my family to eat. I highly recommend this book! Dr. Lustig not only puts fabulous and fascinating information into this book, but he's also funny and has a great writing style. I also watched his 90 minute video on YouTube and he's an engaging speaker. I'll look forward to reading more of his work!
BeeEhn More than 1 year ago
In Fat Chance, Dr. Lustig really gets into the science of obesity and weight gain. While the chapters may get dull at times (the last section of the book is basically about food in our political system), there is wonderful information about how we can use food to our advantage! I was a fan.
MischW More than 1 year ago
If you are concerned about the obesity epidemic or just your own health, I highly recommend this book. Dr Lustig does a very thorough job in stating how the way we've been eating directly affects our health and well being. Some of the chapters where he gets into the scientific, may be a little rough for some readers, but overall a very informative text that has me examining the way I eat and what I eat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is extremely helpful in informing the readers on why sugar is so bad for us and what it does to our bodies. I do recommend the book but the author goes into such detail (all good stuff) that it reads much like a medical textbook and it was a tough read for me. I had previously purchased and read this author's book, The Fat Chance Cookbook, and I feel that the first 50-60 pages of the cookbook gives a very good overview of Fat Chance. Unless you want to get into the actual medical reasons for why sugar and processed food is so bad for you, I'd actually recommend buying and reading The Fat Chance Cookbook and afterwards, if you feel the need for more information, buy Fat Chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not a "diet" book. In view of our obesity crisis and the illnesses that our American diet are causing, Dr. Lustig explains exactly what happens in our bodies when we eat all of this processed food that we are confronted with in our country these days. He describes why our bodies simply cannot cope with all this refined food with far too much sugar. He helps me understand what goes on in my body when I do not provide it with decent nutrition. He explains why it is so difficult to change our eating habits. He doesn't just tell us to eat real, unprocessed food with very little sugar and lots of fiber. He tells us why we really, really need to do this to reduce obesity and to prevent illnesses that can be caused by poor nutrition. This is an excellent and very helpful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eye opening book from a hugely knowledgeable figure. He does not indorse any type of diet, but goes into detail on what these substances do to your body. He also shines a light on food politics and how much the government and certain companies stand to benefit from influencing what we eat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While it is scientifically written, it was fascinating. I finally understand how important controlling our insulin is. I lost 20 something pounds after reading this book. Fiber and no "sugar" is the way to go. Everyone should read this book. I've given copies to my siblings. I am healthier and thinner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! We all know sugar isn't good for us. But nobody EVER explained to me how harmful it is, and why. A recent diagnosis of prediabetes led me to this book, and I am so glad it did. I admit I skimmed a lot of the biochemistry stuff because even if I took the time to understand it, I would never remember it. It didn't detract from the book for me. But I know now how sugar and too many refined carbs are brutal for your liver and lead to a vicious cycle that leads to diabetes for many people. I had always thought that someone would have to pry my chocolate from my cold dead hands, but now I understand the importance of avoiding the bad stuff. The book contains charts of various foods and how often you should eat them based on how healthy they are. I'm so grateful for such a wonderful resource.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lucky_Old_Son More than 1 year ago
The many diets and dieting subjects before the public these days is sickening! Lustig does a decent job of putting the ABC's of body chemistry in the food/diet arena. Learning why the fat doesn't go away is worth learning. Foods are necessary but trigger good and bad reactions. I learned why my favorites kept my stomach pregnant.
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Knitmom81 More than 1 year ago
So much of this book was difficult to understand, but the author seems to have good credentials and know the science. I'm sure we will get more on this topic as time progresses.