Born in New York, Lutwak attended the College of the City of New York, followed by the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, and Yale University. After working for the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, he briefly worked in Los Angeles, CA; Akron, OH; and Huntsville, AL. From there he started work with the FDA in 1989. During his time there, he raised early concerns about fen-phen, an anti-obesity treatment found to increase risk of heart disease. He also worked at Cornell University, studying the role of calcium in osteoporosis and the physiological effects of weightlessness. After the death of his first wife, Cecile Kroshinsky, he remarried. His second wife later divorced him. He died in 2006. His surviving family includes his sister and his seven children: Mark, Diane, Paul, Jean, Robert, David, and Aviva.