Fat Chance
Read in 14 min.
Listen in 17 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Robert H. Lustig

Fat Chance

How sugar affects the development of obesity

There was a time when people believed that, in order to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle, all we had to do was eat less fat and exercise. Sugar was not demonised as much as it should have been, and this has led to alarming consequences. About one third of American adults are now obese, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. In Fat Chance, The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease, paediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig makes us reevaluate everything we thought we knew about food. He maintains that the main cause of the ‘obesity pandemic’ is the sugar that is deliberately disguised in our food behind unfamiliar names, and that fructose is the main culprit. Lustig also provides strategies to readjust the hormones that regulate hunger and reward, and offers social and political solutions to improve the health of the future generations.

Fat Chance
Read in 14 min.
Listen in 17 min.

Obesity is not only caused by unhealthy eating habits, but also as a consequence of a combination of different factors

In 2008, there were more than 1.4 billion overweight adults in the world, while cases of obesity have more than doubled since 1990. One third of adults in the USA are obese, and it is estimated that this number will rise to 65% by 2030. This issue does not only affect people living in America and Europe: obesity rates are skyrocketing all over the world, regardless of a country’s level of economic development.

Society often blames and stigmatises obese people for their weight, because it is widely believed that obesity is purely the result of unhealthy eating habits. Although there is evidence that suggests eating habits are the main cause of obesity, it is also true that, in some cases, genetics, metabolic adaptation, and our environment play a major role in disproportionate weight gain.

The media exacerbates the stigma surrounding weight gain and obesity, but many health professionals are also guilty of perpetuating this mentality. This stigma is still prominent today, despite the fact that we now know that some people gain weight more easily than others due to genetic factors. Being thin does not necessarily mean that we are healthy, so we need to stop ridiculing fat people, and start educating everyone to eat properly.

Losing weight requires more than just a change in our behaviour, because people do not get fat just because of laziness and overeating. Biological factors play a major role in weight management, even more so than our lifestyle.

As early as 1972, British physiologist and nutritionist John Yudkin argued in his book Pure, White and Deadly that people were eating too much sugar, which not only led to weight gain, but also to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and in some cases, even cancer.

The World Sugar Research Organisation claimed that Yudkin’s findings were the work of pure science fiction, and the food industry supported the idea that saturated fat posed a greater risk to our health than sugar. Yudkin, unfortunately, was unable to provide definitive proof of the correlation between sugar and disease. Today we know that carbohydrates, and especially sugar, are the main causes of LDL-cholesterol, which leads to the onset of many types of heart disease.


The key ideas of "Fat Chance"

Obesity is not only caused by unhealthy eating habits, but also as a consequence of a combination of different factors
People gain weight as a result of two hormones, insulin and leptin, which play a key role in the process of weight accumulation
Not all calories are the same: in order to avoid putting on weight, we need to eat the ‘right’ kind of calories
Sugar is enemy number one, because it is addictive, and fructose is the worst kind of all
In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is important that we eat ‘real’ food, and avoid pre-packaged and over-processed products
We can eat healthy food without having to cook; we just need to choose the right dishes
The food industries are backed by political regimes, and have a vested interest in selling foods that are high in sugar
Regulating the marketing of sugar-rich foods could have a majorly positive impact on the health of the population, and especially in reducing body mass index
Take-home message
4books preview

Try 4books Premium for free!