Robert Lustig: Sugar is a Poison

Robert Lustig: Sugar is a Poison

Can sugar lead to metabolic syndrome?

Is sugar a toxic poison? Or is sugar something much less insidious?


Robert Lustig, a specialist in pediatric hormone disorders, believes that sugar is like a poison and akin to a toxin in our bodies. His You-Tube lecture Sugar: The Bitter Truth on the topic has received more than 800,000 hits since it was originally posted and has caught the attention of experts and non-experts alike.


Robert Lustig’s definition of sugar might not match yours or mine; he believes that sugar is defined as ALL kinds of fructose and not just the fructose that most Americans have come to see as unhealthy. As the NYT explains:



“Lustig’s use of the word “sugar” to mean both sucrose — beet and cane sugar, whether white or brown — and high-fructose corn syrup.”


The USDA has estimated that the average American consumes approximately 90 pounds of sugar per year, which can probably account for much of the increase in obesity rates—commonly linked to diabetes and sometimes thought to be connected to metabolic syndrome. So far, the link to an increase in metabolic syndrome has only been proven in rats, which means it might not be the case in humans. Metabolic syndrome is known as a high-risk factor for heart attacks.


Lustig believes that sugar is responsible for increasing the amount of fat in our livers, which then leads to an increase of health complications—first in our insulin levels, and then in to metabolic syndrome. He views sugar as something that becomes toxic to our bodies with continued consumption over time; he doesn’t think that one ice cream cone will lead to metabolic syndrome. This kind of toxin is referred to as a “chronic toxin” as opposed to an “actute toxin” that requires regulation by the FDA.


There are a few studies being conducted now that might shed light on just how much sugar consumption and in what period of time might eventually lead to metabolic syndrome. Because of the possible risks associated with consuming large amounts of sugar in short amounts of time, the studies aren’t being spread out over a long period of time.


The possible dangers of sugar lie in how our bodies metabolize and fructose in comparison to other carbohydrates.Lustig’s thinking is that some people who consume too much sugar over time are more susceptible to becoming insulin-resistant; this means that your body can’t handle the amount of insulin that your body is pumping out.