Dr. Robert Lustig is an endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California-San Francisco. In this video, he sits down with CrossFit’s Rory McKernan to explain sugar’s toxicity, outline the stakes of sugar consumption and offer suggestions for addressing the ongoing sugar crisis.
“Sugar is toxic,” Lustig explains. “It proffers a set of biochemical alterations that are detrimental to human health—unrelated to its calories.” In this way, Lustig says, sugar “is very much like alcohol,” and chronic metabolic diseases associated with alcohol are becoming prevalent in children with high-sugar diets. When asked about the state of pediatric medicine in the United States, Lustig says, “We have a problem.”
Because the food industry has negatively influenced nutrition science for the last 45 years, many people still abide by the mistaken belief that a healthy diet is attained by regulating calories and saturated fat. This misconception has led to a rise in chronic metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes in adult and youth populations. People who believe they are making healthy choices and avoiding sugar are nevertheless affected by the crisis.
“Even though you might not be sick,” Lustig says, “society is.” In the final third of the video, Lustig outlines the necessary steps for enacting a societal intervention. These steps include educating the public, approaching sugar as an addictive substance and calling Type 2 diabetes what it is: “processed food disease.”