The 3 Week Diet

Dr. Robert Lustig: Is Sugar Toxic? on 60 Minutes (Video)

CBS News 60 Minutes takes up the topic — Is Sugar Toxic? — featuring Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, who has long been outspoken about the dangers and health risks of sugar consumption, based on his research and that of others.

On Sunday, April 1, 2012, medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will present the report on sugar as well as his interview with Dr. Lustig. Tune in at 7 p.m ET/PT.

UPDATE: Unable to watch on television? The full replay video is now posted below, followed by the Web only 60 Minutes Overtime video.

Broadcast segment:

60 Minutes Overtime segment:

Click here to read the full transcript text.

Dr. Lustig has been on the forefront of raising awareness of the enormous public health crisis excessive sugar consumption has caused. Notably, his hour-long lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, went viral on YouTube, receiving to date, nearly 2 million views; you can watch it (here).

It’s also notable just how much toxic sugar is being consumed, and this is discussed on the program. On average Americans are consuming 130 pounds of added sugar — both cane and beet sugar as well as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It’s found in the vast majority of processed foods of varying kinds. Noting the demonizing of HFCS, Dr. Lustig says, “They are basically equivalent. The problem is they’re both bad. They’re both equally toxic.”

Here’s more of what he has to say on 60 Minutes:

Dr. Lustig treats sick, obese children, who he believes are primarily sick because of the amount of sugar they ingest. He says this sugar not only leads to obesity, but to “Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease itself.” Something needs to be done says Dr. Lustig. “Ultimately, this is a public health crisis…you have to do big things and you have to do them across the board,” he tells Gupta. “Tobacco and alcohol are perfect examples,” he says, referring to the regulations imposed on their consumption and the warnings on their labels. “I think sugar belongs in this exact same wastebasket.”


He is one of the lead authors of a new study, published in Nature Magazine, earlier in 2012 “Public health: The Toxic Truth about Sugar,” which made the recommendation for some form of regulation, noting that worldwide, sugar contributes to 35 million deaths from degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Both the study and the call for regulation generated headlines as well as blogosphere and social media debate.

The 60 Minutes segment also highlights some of the research showing just how damaging sugar is to the body. In particular, a study from the University of California, Davis showing that excessive sugar calories are not “empty” — rather, they have a profoundly negative effect on the body.

“Subjects had 25 percent of their caloric intake replaced with sweetened drinks. Nutritional biologist Kimber Stanhope was surprised to see that after only two weeks, “We found that the subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup had increased levels of LDL cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” she tells Gupta. “I started eating and drinking a whole lot less sugar.”

What happens says Stanhope, is the liver gets overloaded with fructose and converts some of it into fat, which gets into the bloodstream to create “small dense LDL,” the kind of LDL that forms plaque in arteries. The irony here is that for precisely that reason – avoiding heart disease – a government commission in the 1970s mandated that we lower our fat consumption. “When you take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard,” says Dr. Lustig. “And the food industry knew that, so they replaced it with sugar…and guess what? Heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and death are skyrocketing,” he tells Gupta.”

The article continues at

At Skinny Bliss I’ve written on this topic frequently, as I hear of new research. You can find links to previous stories under “Related Articles” below. Trouble is, sugar is also literally physiologically addictive, as you may know if you have given it up or tried to give it up. But learning more and more of the dangers may give us the fortitude to refuse to allow it to creep into our diet. It’s one more reason — whether dieting to lose weight or maintain weight or to pursue the goal of a “healthy lifestyle” — to stick with the whole foods, unprocessed, with no added sugars, that can help keep us from facing such tragic health consequences.

Let us know what you think of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s report on 60 Minutes’ Is Sugar Toxic? and the work of Dr. Robert Lustig.

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