Several months ago I watched an impressive video, featuring Robert Lustig, bout the dangers of sugar. In the synchronistic style of the universe to which I’m accustomed, my friend Brad later mentioned a book he thought I’d enjoy called Fat Chance. I looked up the book on Amazon and discovered it was written by Robert Lustig. What a great read!
Lustig draws us in early by naming what we see all around us: More than half of all American adults are now overweight or obese. And, worldwide, 30 percent more people are obese than malnourished. So obesity—and non-communicable diseases related to obesity—are now bigger global health problems than hunger or infectious diseases. And that represents a significant paradigm shift.
Obesity, or “Metabolic Syndrome,” is part of a pandemic in our midst; a group of five chronic conditions—obesity, diabetes, lipid problems (such as high triglyceride and low HDL), hypertension, and cardiovascular disease—all of which reduce quality of life and increase chances of early death.
Since Metabolic Syndrome also contributes to cancer and dementia, it’s easy to see the magnitude of the problem.
Fat Chance does a great job of exploding common misconceptions such as “a calorie is a calorie” (fructose and refined carbs have a dramatically different effect on our bodies than other foods), or “fat people are lazy, undisciplined, or both” (Metabolic Syndrome is a complex public health issue). And, while explaining the problems related to Metabolic Syndrome, Lustig also lays out both individual-level and public health solutions.
Fat Chance really shines in describing Metabolic Syndrome as an issue that should be addressed by government regulations. Lustig explains that portraying obesity as a matter of individual choice lets the food industry off the hook, dividing and conquering by using the “food choice” argument.
Drawing parallels between alcohol and sugar, Lustig concludes with the radical proposition that we should regulate sugar the way we regulate alcohol and tobacco.
Fat Chance is as interesting as it is important. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to seeing the forthcoming film on the topic, called Sugar Daddy, when it arrives. Click this link to buy a copy of Fat Chance from Amazon.