Food and Behaviour Research

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13 March 2013 - FAB EVENT - Oxford - SUGAR AND THE BRAIN: FOOD CHOICE, ADDICTION AND THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS - A Symposium with Professor Robert Lustig MD


Start Date: 13 March 2013

End Date: 13 March 2013

Duration 12.30pm to 5.00pm

Location University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PL

Venue Medical Sciences Teaching Centre

This event has now taken place.

Programme and Abstracts:

A document with the programme, speaker details and abstracts, summarising the content of the day's presentations may be downloaded at the link below.

About the event:

FAB Research was proud to have hosted the first visit to the UK by Professor Robert Lustig MD of the University of California, a specialist in neuro-endocrinology and obesity who is internationally renowned for his research into the hormonal and other effects of dietary sugar.

At this special symposium, Professor Lustig outlined the evidence for his claim that sugar is addictive, and toxic in excess.  If he is right, this would help not only to explain the current epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other degenerative physical health disorders, but also to give us new and important insights into a wide range of mental health disorders.  These have already overtaken physical health disorders in terms of their cost burden in developed countries, with potentially devastating consequences if their increase continues unchecked.

Serious mental health disorders like schizophrenia have long been associated with the same ‘metabolic syndrome’ that underlies diabetes and heart disease; and there is mounting evidence that excessive sugar consumption may play a role in conditions such as ADHD, antisocial behaviour, depression and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as contributing to the dramatic rise in eating disorders in recent years.

Public health advice still emphasises ‘low-fat’ diets for weight loss and general health, but such diets are almost always high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates. 

Delegates were presented with the latest scientific evidence, and had an opportunity to ask their own questions and join in a discussion with a panel of eminent speakers and commentators, all of whom are experts in their respective fields. 

What was discussed:

  • Why have mental health disorders risen so dramatically in recent years – and why does this matter so much?
  • Has ‘healthy eating’ advice inadvertently been making matters worse?
  • What’s the evidence that diet can play a role in ADHD, depression, psychosis and dementia?
  • Can nutritional interventions really reduce antisocial behaviour or eating disorders?
  • Why might sugar be addictive and toxic – and if it is, what can we do about it?