Professor of Pediatrics, UC San Francisco
Robert Lustig, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics in Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also the Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF.
Professor Lustig has developed a strong international following in the nutrition and health world with his warnings about the dangers of consuming too much sugar.
Over the years, he has developed a unified hypothesis centered on the etiology, prevention and treatment of the obesity epidemic that has plagued the US for many years, and has spread to all countries adopting modern, western-type diets.
Dr Lustig's research and campaigning on sugar first arose from his work in pediatric endocrinology, caring for many children whose hypothalami had been damaged by brain tumors, radiation, chemotherapy and/or surgery. Most patients who survived had very serious obesity problems - and Lustig theorized that the damage to the hypothalamus caused an inability to sense the hormone leptin, leading to a 'starvation response' that prevented normal satiety and appetite control.
Repairing the hypothalamus was not possible, but he noted that patients had excessive vagus nerve activity, which boosted insulin secretion. Lustig found that treatment with octreotide - an insulin suppressive agent - enabled these patients to lose a great deal of weight, and also boosted their ablity to exercise a great deal more.
This work led him to develop his unified theory on obesity - and also to investigate the role of fructose in the development of obesity and related chronic diseases.
Lustig remains a world-leading researcher in this area, and he also leads the public relations fight in the US and elsewhere against the excesssive consumption of sugar - and particularly fructose - that is so prevalent in diets rich in ultra-processed foods.
Dr Lustig is from Brooklyn, NY, graduated from MIT in 1976 and earned his MD in 1980 from Cornell University Medical College. Following a pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1983, his clinical fellowship was performed at the University of San Francisco in 1984, where he is still based.
Over the years, Lustig has written hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and reviews. He also has been active in these organizations over his long career:
Dr Lustig has written several best-selling books, explaining how to beat disease and obesity by cutting out sugar and processed food from your diet, including:
Metabolical: The truth about processed food and how it poisons people and the planet
Fat Chance: The bitter truth about sugar.
Dr Lustig lives in San Francisco with his wife and two daughters. Spare time (what little there is) is spent cooking, theater-going, and traveling.
For a fuller list of Dr Lustig's extensive research publications, please checkout his Researchgate profile
Lustig RH. (2020) Ultraprocessed Food: Addictive, Toxic, and Ready for Regulation. Nutrients 2020 12(11) doi:10.3390/nu12113401
Lustig RH, Mulligan K, Noworolski SM, Tai VW, Wen MJ, Erkin-Cakmak A, Gugliucci A, Schwarz JM. (2016) Isocaloric fructose restriction and metabolic improvement in children with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Obesity (Silver Spring). 24(2):453-60. doi: 10.1002/oby.21371. Epub 2015 Oct 26
Cooper JS, Zhang Q, Pajak TF, Forastiere AA, Jacobs J, Saxman SB, Kish JA, Kim HE, Cmelak AJ, Rotman M, Lustig R, Ensley JF, Thorstad W, Schultz CJ, Yom SS, Ang KK. Long-term Follow-up of the RTOG 9501/Intergroup Phase III Trial: Postoperative Concurrent Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy in High-Risk Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Dec 1; 84(5):1198-205. View in: PubMed
Gupta N, Lustig RH, Kohn MA, Vittinghoff E. Menarche in pediatric patients with Crohn's disease. Dig Dis Sci. 2012 Nov; 57(11):2975-81. View in: PubMed
Bereket A, Kiess W, Lustig RH, Muller HL, Goldstone AP, Weiss R, Yavuz Y, Hochberg Z. Hypothalamic obesity in children. Obes Rev. 2012 Sep; 13(9):780-98. View in: PubMed
Tomiyama AJ, Schamarek I, Lustig RH, Kirschbaum C, Puterman E, Havel PJ, Epel ES. Leptin concentrations in response to acute stress predict subsequent intake of comfort foods. Physiol Behav. 2012 Aug 20; 107(1):34-9. View in: PubMed
Lustig RH. Diabetes and dietary fibre: directive or distraction? Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 2012 Apr; 40(3):230-1. View in: PubMed
Bremer AA, Mietus-Snyder M, Lustig RH. Toward a unifying hypothesis of metabolic syndrome. Pediatrics. 2012 Mar; 129(3):557-70. View in: PubMed
Lustig RH, Schmidt LA, Brindis CD. Public health: The toxic truth about sugar. Nature. 2012 Feb 2; 482(7383):27-9. View in: PubMed
Rhodes ET, Goran MI, Lieu TA, Lustig RH, Prosser LA, Songer TJ, Weigensberg MJ, Weinstock RS, Gonzalez T, Rawluk K, Zoghbi RM, Ludwig DS, Laffel LM. Health-related quality of life in adolescents with or at risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Pediatr. 2012 Jun; 160(6):911-7. View in: PubMed
Bremer AA, Lustig RH. Effects of sugar-sweetened beverages on children. Pediatr Ann. 2012 Jan; 41(1):26-30. View in: PubMed
Suneja G, Alonso-Basanta M, Lustig R, Lee JY, Bekelman JE. Postoperative radiation therapy for low-grade glioma: Patterns of care between 1998 and 2006. Cancer. 2012 Aug 1; 118(15):3735-42. View in: PubMed