Robert Lustig

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This article is about the American pediatric endocrinologist. For the American football executive, see Bob Lustig.
Robert H. Lustig
Robert Lustig, March 2013.jpg
Speaking in Cambridge, MA, 2013
Born 1954[1]
Brooklyn, New York[2]
Education Bachelor's, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976.[2]
MD, Cornell University Medical College, 1980.
Residency in pediatriacs, St. Louis Children's Hospital, 1983.
Clinical fellowship in pediatric endocrinology, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, 1984.
Postdoctoral fellowship in neuroendocrinology, Rockefeller University, 1986.[3]
Master of Studies in Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law[4]
Website Robert Lustig, MD,
University of California, San Francisco
Medical career
Profession Clinical medical practice, teaching and research
Field Neuroendocrinology, pediatric endocrinology
Institutions University of California, San Francisco, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
Specialism Childhood obesity
Research Biochemical, neural, hormonal and genetic influences contributing to obesity

Robert H. Lustig (born 1954) is an American pediatric endocrinologist. He is Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he specializes in neuroendocrinology and childhood obesity. He is also director of UCSF's WATCH program (Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health), and president and co-founder of the non-profit Institute for Responsible Nutrition.[5][6]

Lustig came to public attention in 2009 when one of his medical lectures, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," went viral on YouTube.[7][8][9][10] He is the editor of Obesity Before Birth: Maternal and Prenatal Influences on the Offspring (2010), and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease (2013).


Lustig grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.[2] He obtained a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and an MD from Cornell University Medical College in 1980.[5]

His pediatric residency was completed at St. Louis Children's Hospital in 1983 and his clinical fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at UCSF the following year. After this he worked at Rockefeller University for six years as a post-doctoral fellow and research associate in neuroendocrinology. Before returning to UCSF in 2001, he was a faculty member at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and worked at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.[5] In 2013 he completed a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) from UC Hastings College of the Law.[4]

Lustig has authored 105 peer-reviewed articles and 65 reviews.[11] He is a former chair of the obesity task force of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, a member of the obesity task force of the Endocrine Society, and sits on the steering committee of the International Endocrine Alliance to Combat Obesity. He is married with two daughters and lives in San Francisco.[5]


Lustig has become known for research that seeks to link excess consumption of fructose, a component of sucrose (table sugar), honey, fruit and some vegetables, to the development of metabolic syndrome, which can include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity and the phenomenon "TOFI" ("thin-outside-fat-inside"). He argues that fructose can be consumed safely within whole fruits and vegetables because of the role played by the accompanying dietary fiber. But he maintains that the liver is damaged by the fructose in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup that are added to food and beverages (particularly convenience food and soft drinks), and by the fructose in fruit and vegetable juice. His position is that sugars are not simply empty calories; he rejects the idea that "a calorie is a calorie."[9][12][13]

Lustig was a co-author in 2009 of the American Heart Association's guideline on sugar intake, which recommended that women consume no more than 100 calories daily from added sugars and men no more than 150.[14] That year, a 90-minute lecture by Lustig, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," recorded in May 2009 for University of California Television,[7] went viral on YouTube; by April 2016, it had been viewed over six million times.[10] The Financial Times called the video "sugar's 'tobacco' moment."[15]

However, there is no scientific consensus that consumed fructose itself affects metabolism.[16][17][18]

Selected works[edit]


  • (2010) Obesity Before Birth: Maternal and Prenatal Influences on the Offspring. Boston: Springer Science.
  • (2013) Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. New York: Hudson Street Press.
  • (2013) Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, Avery.
  • (2014) with Heather Millar, The Fat Chance Cookbook, Thorndike Press.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Better Know a Guest: March 25 — 28, 2013", Colbert News Hub, 26 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Robert Lustig, MD, MSL", ConnectWell.
  3. ^ Robert Lustig, MD, Benioff Children's Hospital.
  4. ^ a b "Robert Lustig, M.D., Professor, pediatric endocrinology, UCSF", University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
  5. ^ a b c d "Robert Lustig, MD", University of California, San Francisco.
  6. ^ "Our team", Institute for Responsible Nutrition.
  7. ^ a b Robert Lustig, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", University of California Television, 26 May 2009; uploaded to YouTube 20 July 2009.
  8. ^ Kate Vidinsky, "UCSF Lecture on Sugar & Obesity Goes Viral as Experts Confront Health Crisis", University of California, San Francisco, 11 March 2010.
  9. ^ a b Gary Taube, "Is Sugar Toxic?", The New York Times, 13 April 2011.
  10. ^ a b Ian Leslie, "The sugar conspiracy", The Guardian, 7 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Robert Lustig", The Conversation.
  12. ^ Robert H. Lustig, Laura A. Schmidt, Claire D. Brindis, "Public health: The toxic truth about sugar", Nature, 482, 2 February 2012, 27–29. doi:10.1038/482027a PMID 22297952
  13. ^ Robert Lustig, "Fructose: It's 'Alcohol Without the Buzz', Advances in Nutrition, 4(2), March 2013, 226–235. doi:10.3945/an.112.002998 PMID 23493539
  14. ^ Rachel K. Johnson, et al., "AHA Scientific Statement: Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health", American Heart Association, 15 September 2009. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627 PMID 19704096
  15. ^ Izabella Kaminska, "Robert Lustig: godfather of the sugar tax", The Financial Times, 18 March 2016.
  16. ^ Luc Tappy, Kim-Anne Lê, "Metabolic Effects of Fructose and the Worldwide Increase in Obesity", 90(1), 1 January 2010, 23–46. doi:10.1152/physrev.00019.2009 PMID 20086073
  17. ^ Luc Tappy, Bettina Mittendorfer, "Fructose toxicity: is the science ready for public health actions?", Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 15(4), July 2012, 357–361. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e328354727e PMID 22617566
  18. ^ Neel Malhotra, Melanie D. Beaton, "Management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in 2015", World Journal of Hepatology, 7(30), 28 December 2015, 2962–2967. doi:10.4254/wjh.v7.i30.2962 PMID 26730275

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