Robert H. Lustig
Lustig in 2013
Born1957 (age 66–67)
New York City, US[1]
Medical career
ProfessionClinical medical practice, teaching and research
FieldNeuroendocrinology, pediatric endocrinology
InstitutionsUniversity of California, San Francisco, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
Sub-specialtiesChildhood obesity, metabolic syndrome
ResearchBiochemical, neural, hormonal and genetic influences contributing to obesity

Robert H. Lustig (born 1957) is an American pediatric endocrinologist. He is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he specialized 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.[2][3]

Lustig came to public attention in 2009 when one of his medical lectures, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", was aired.[4][5] 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.[6] He obtained a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and an MD from Cornell University Medical College in 1980.[2]

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.[2] In 2013 he completed a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) from UC Hastings College of the Law.[7]

Lustig has authored 105 peer-reviewed articles and 65 reviews.[8] 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.[2]


Lustig's publications discussed a proposed toxic effect of dietary fructose – a component of sucrose (table sugar), honey, fruit and some vegetables – on the development of obesity.[9] In the early 21st century, Lustig believed that the liver is damaged by fructose in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup used in manufactured food and beverages (particularly convenience food and soft drinks), and by fructose in fruit juice and vegetable juice. His position was that sugars are not simply empty calories, and rejected the idea that "a calorie is a calorie."[10][9][11]

Lustig was a coauthor of the 2009 American Heart Association guideline on sugar intake, which recommended that women consume no more than 100 calories daily from added sugars and men no more than 150.[12]


Lustig's statements regarding fructose as a "poison" and the primary cause of weight gain have been disputed because claims of fructose toxicity are unproven.[13][14] Excessive consumption of fructose-containing beverages is likely a cause of weight gain and obesity in many people due to the additional caloric intake rather than a specific toxic effect of fructose.[13][15][16][17][18] Fructose – when consumed in excess as a sweetening agent in foods and beverages – is associated with surplus calories and greater risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders as components of metabolic syndrome.[13][14][17] Other reviews indicate that fructose has no specific adverse effects compared to any other carbohydrate.[13][14]

Selected works



See also


  1. ^ "Robert Lustig, MD, MSL" Archived January 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, ConnectWell.
  2. ^ a b c d "Robert Lustig, MD", University of California, San Francisco.
  3. ^ "Our team", Institute for Responsible Nutrition.
  4. ^ Robert Lustig, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", University of California Television, May 26, 2009; July 20, 2009.
  5. ^ Kate Vidinsky, "UCSF Lecture on Sugar & Obesity Goes Viral as Experts Confront Health Crisis", University of California, San Francisco, March 11, 2010.
  6. ^ "About Dr. Robert Lustig", About Dr. Robert Lustig.
  7. ^ "Robert Lustig, M.D., Professor, pediatric endocrinology, UCSF", University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
  8. ^ "Robert Lustig", The Conversation.
  9. ^ a b Lustig, Robert H.; Schmidt, Laura A.; Brindis, Claire D. (2012). "Public health: The toxic truth about sugar". Nature. 482 (7383): 27–29. Bibcode:2012Natur.482...27L. doi:10.1038/482027a. PMID 22297952. S2CID 205069736.
  10. ^ Gary Taube, "Is Sugar Toxic?", The New York Times, April 13, 2011.
  11. ^ Lustig, RH (2013). "Fructose: it's "alcohol without the buzz"". Advances in Nutrition. 4 (2): 226–35. doi:10.3945/an.112.002998. PMC 3649103. PMID 23493539.
  12. ^ Johnson, RK; Appel, LJ; Brands, M; Howard, BV; Lefevre, M; Lustig, RH; Sacks, F; Steffen, LM; Wylie-Rosett, J (2009). "Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association". Circulation. 120 (11): 1011–20. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627. PMID 19704096.
  13. ^ a b c d van Buul, Vincent J.; Tappy, Luc; Brouns, Fred (2014). "Misconceptions about fructose-containing sugars and their role in the obesity epidemic". Nutrition Research Reviews. 27 (1): 119–130. doi:10.1017/S0954422414000067. PMC 4078442. PMID 24666553.
  14. ^ a b c Stanhope, KL (September 17, 2015). "Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy". Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. 53 (1): 52–67. doi:10.3109/10408363.2015.1084990. PMC 4822166. PMID 26376619.
  15. ^ Bray, GA; Nielsen, SJ; Popkin, BM (2004). "Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 79 (4): 537–543. doi:10.1093/ajcn/79.4.537. PMID 15051594.
  16. ^ Basu, Sanjay; McKee, Martin; Galea, Gauden; Stuckler, David (2013). "Relationship of soft drink consumption to global overweight, obesity, and diabetes: A cross-national analysis of 75 countries". American Journal of Public Health. 103 (11): 2071–2077. doi:10.2105/ajph.2012.300974. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 3828681. PMID 23488503.
  17. ^ a b Malik, Vasanti S.; Hu, Frank B. (2015). "Fructose and cardiometabolic health: What the evidence from sugar-sweetened beverages tells us". Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 66 (14): 1615–1624. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.025. ISSN 0735-1097. PMC 4592517. PMID 26429086.
  18. ^ Johnson, RJ; Sanchez-Lozada, LG; Nakagawa, T (2010). "The effect of fructose on renal biology and disease". Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 21 (12): 2036–2039. doi:10.1681/ASN.2010050506. PMID 21115612.