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Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  3,411 Ratings  ·  503 Reviews
Robert Lustig’s 90-minute YouTube video Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has been viewed more than two million times. Now, in this much anticipated book, he documents the science and the politics that has led to the pandemic of chronic disease over the last 30 years.

In the late 1970s when the government mandated we get the fat out of our food, the food industry responded by pourin
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published December 27th 2012 by Hudson Street Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Todd
Feb 16, 2013 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book about the hormonal chains and effects of eating, and explains it in ways that are both thorough and accessible. Some of the information I had read before in my obsessive reading about fat/weight loss, but here it was put together in a systematic way to make sense of what your body is doing with what you put into it. Because I'm a social scientist, I got a bit bogged down in the last section about social policy, because his understanding of large social policies and politics ...more
JA
Feb 11, 2013 JA rated it really liked it
I am giving this book a high rating with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I was really interested in the information, and his explanations of the science seem solid and at a good level of detail. Fundamentally, I found it compelling and convincing enough that I am making some changes in my eating habits based on it. So, that's pretty good.

But several things about the way this was written annoyed me.

The major problem:

In some places he is very clear and specific that being overweight is one thi
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Roger
I watched Dr. Lustig's now famous lecture last year, Sugar: The Bitter Truth (find it on YouTube) and just finished his book - Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar.

Read it and you will come to understand why he says "a calorie is not a calorie" and "not all calories are equal".

Learn how we metabolize our food when we eat real food and what makes things go wrong in that process when we eat processed foods - stripped of much or their nutritional content and fiber that are replaced with sug
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John Braine
Aug 11, 2013 John Braine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, top-10-2013
This is getting 5 stars not because it I loved it so much, some of it was a bit of a chore. But it's one of those books that you wish everyone would read, or that it was on the school curriculum, as the content is so important.

I don't hold much truck with news headlines that say this food or that food, is bad for you, or good for you, and then next week it's bad for you again. I prefer to get my facts from scientific books, like this based around the life work and knowledge of a whole career.

He
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John Wiltshire
Dec 14, 2014 John Wiltshire rated it did not like it
I came to this book through a recommendation by Mike of Six Pack Shortcuts on YouTube. I haven't eaten sugar for a very long time now. I don't do carbs, so it's easier for me to avoid most of the places where sugar can be found. But it does get really, really tiresome constantly going through the spiel when people offer you something to eat that's got sugar in, so I thought a little science to back up my, "Sorry, I don't do sugar," routine might help. There's nothing that makes people shut up li ...more
Clayton
May 12, 2013 Clayton rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone concerned about his or her health. Lustig knew he'd take knife and arrow attacks that's why he walked into this battle against processed food wearing an armor of excellent research and experience. If this book doesn't change your habits then you're head isn't hooked up right.
Nigeyb
May 07, 2016 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Annoyingly verbose, with far too many rhetorical questions, and it's exclusively US-centric, however it is also chock full of very helpful information. A good editor could have halved the length without compromising the message or the scientific explanations however I still recommend this book to everyone.

Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease contains important nutritional information that is not being given the prominence it deserves by many policy makers and health prof
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Richard
Jun 08, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
Okay, yeah, I finished this eons ago. Then I bought a copy (I first read it as a library loan), with the intention of re-reading and writing a Big Review. Now I'm behind by at least four (five?) Big Reviews. But this could change you life — even give you years more of health and life. Read it, even if I never get around to writing that Big Review.

Reviews:

• GuardianUK: Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar by Robert Lustig – review and Sugar, not fat, exposed as deadly villain in obesit
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Vivian
Apr 17, 2013 Vivian rated it really liked it
Okay, I'm convinced: sugar is the devil incarnate! Now that I've gone off gluten (with some success), looks like I'll have to add sugar to the list of edible things to avoid. Which isn't much of a stretch: considering sugar adds no value to one's daily diet, and can provoke a host of major illnesses. Lustig makes a strong case for sugar being the culprit in the American society's march toward obesity, and the fact that sugar is extremely hard to resist, especially for children, means this is one ...more
Marcelo
Jan 30, 2013 Marcelo rated it it was amazing
"A calorie is not a calorie". This very simple statement, which is repeated across this book multiple times (and which drove Lustig's conference "Sugar: the bitter truth", which can be seen on Youtube) drives the narrative of this book and in the process upends a lot of our understanding about weight, health and our personal responsibility. Lustig walks you through the metabolism of sugar - specifically fructose, the sweeter half of sucrose and HFCS - and makes a very convincing case that sugar, ...more
Sean
Jan 27, 2013 Sean rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: 2013
"This book is written only for those of you who eat food. The rest of you are off the hook."

I have read a lot of books on food/food industry, and this is one of the best. It now takes a place next to Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" on my list of must reads in the genre (I also include, perhaps seemingly oddly, Morgan Spurlock's "Don't Eat This Book"). "Fat Chance" discusses the science behind what sugar and processed food is doing to our bodies. About a decade ago, I lost about 40
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Thomas DeWolf
Jun 12, 2013 Thomas DeWolf rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
It's the sugar that's killing us.

This is a brilliant book that should be required reading for anyone who cares about their health and the health of their loved ones. It should also be required reading for every member of Congress, every member of the medical profession, and everyone in the health insurance and drug industries. Nah, never mind. Too many in Congress and the medical profession have enabled the unhealthy changes in the food supply over the past three decades and the actions of those
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Casey
Dec 31, 2015 Casey rated it liked it
Shelves: food
This is an interesting book on the health food industry. It's thesis is pretty simple: sugar is bad for you.

The book first discusses why we as mammals are drawn to sugar, as (I learned this interesting tid-bit from the book) almost nothing in nature that is sweet is also poisonous. Mix this predestination for sweets and the food industry's ability to manipulate our tastebuds with salts and other additives and bam.... you have an obesity epidemic.

He also spends a great deal of time differentiat
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Max Skidmore
Mar 24, 2013 Max Skidmore rated it it was ok
I enjoyed reading this book but only gave it two stars because of pessimism about how much is believable. There has to be just under three trillion books written about weight loss and good health. With such a volume of work, it is difficult to know who you can believe. This author is a medical doctor and that gives him some credibility. Much of the book deals with metabolism at the cellular level and is aimed at individuals with a PhD in Micro Biology....this seems to add to his credibility. How ...more
Christina Dudley
Nov 29, 2012 Christina Dudley rated it really liked it
I devoured this book.

Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF whose "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" lecture video got lots of hits on YouTube, has been watching the rise of obesity and its attendant ills in his practice over the last umpteen years. While not every obese person is unhealthy (and many people with acceptable BMIs still suffer from metabolic syndrome), obesity frequently brings in train "the cluster of chronic metabolic diseases...which includes...type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high b
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Beth666ann
Mar 19, 2013 Beth666ann rated it really liked it
This book is depressing to anyone who struggles with weight and believes weight loss can be achieved through dieting, but it rings true and is well backed-up with research--and the author does, at the end, pose some solutions to the dilemma he outlines. Basically, this book says, diets never work and all you can do once you've ruined yourself by getting too many fat cells is exercise your ass off and try to eat lots of fiber and stay away from processed foods. Alcohol = evil. Sugar = evil. Also, ...more
Bex
Apr 08, 2013 Bex rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
This is not a diet book. It's a book about nutrition, biology and public health and its science is spot-on.

I've done a ridiculous amount of reading on nutrition and diet books (both personally and as an editor) and this book is an excellent summation of everything out there today on what we currently know about the state of our food.

The bottom line is that our government is subsidizing foods that make us sick and have been for a long time, and it's a primary reason we have seen an explosion in
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Eddie Clarke
Jan 02, 2013 Eddie Clarke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, politics, science, 2013
Very passionately and persuasively written. The first chapters explain incredibly complex biochemical reactions in the body in an easily understandable way (although don't ask me to paraphrase them now!) and Lustig slowly and methodically builds up his case against sugar and its dealers (and enablers in government). He concludes the world's obesity pandemic won't be beaten by individuals exercising free choice (do we realistically have any when 80% of the food products sold in supermarkets have ...more
Kerry
Jun 13, 2016 Kerry rated it really liked it
Shelves: health
This book presents very compelling arguments for avoiding sugar and processed foods. It focuses a lot on obesity, but you don't have to be obese or overweight to benefit from this book because so much of what is in here is about overall health, not weight. I picked this book up because I saw this author featured on the documentary "Fed Up" and have been working on eliminating sugar and processed foods from my diet to increase my health rather than as a result of wanting to lose weight.

**SPOILER
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Shauni
Sep 18, 2014 Shauni rated it it was amazing
I heard Dr. Lustig on NPR a year and a half ago, and finally got around to reading his book. I'm glad I did! He is a pediatric endocrinologist, and really goes into scientific detail to explain what sugar does to our bodies. I learned so much:

1. A calorie is not a calorie.
2. Sugar, at the level that most people eat it, is toxic and is a major cause of metabolic syndrome.
3. Losing weight long-term is virtually impossible.
4. Preventing (and reversing) metabolic syndrome, on the other hand, is poss
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Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

'High cortisol levels during sleep, for instance, interfere with restfulness, and increase the hunger hormone ghrelin the next day. This differs from person to person, but I was jolted by recognition of the outrageous deliciousness of doughnuts when I haven't slept well.'

'You're either in anorexigenesis – "I'm not hungry and I can burn energy" – or you're in orexigenesis – "I'm hungry and I want to store energy." The flip switch is your leptin level (the
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Casey
Apr 28, 2013 Casey rated it really liked it
A refreshing perspective to the thousands of diet and health books that are pervading the market. Lustig focuses on the ills of sugar, specifically fructose, and its devastating impact on our bodies. If there is one thing to take away from this book, it is to eat less sugar, and if you are going to eat some, pair it with something high-fiber.

I was surprised by how loaded juice is with sugar. No wonder a carton of orange juice disappears so quickly! He does mention "food deserts" in poor income a
...more
Kjerstin Gruys
Mar 14, 2013 Kjerstin Gruys rated it really liked it
Okay, so the honest truth is that I really liked the book. It is well-written, and scientifically sound (at least in terms of the 60-70% of the literature he cites which I am familiar with). If you want to understand how food (and different types of foods) impact your brain and other bodily systems, this book is fantastic. The thing I appreciated the most was Lustig's focus (in the text) on HEALTH, not weight loss. Indeed, he points out (with ample data) that it is much better to be FAT & FI ...more
Tamahome

You might have seen him in the Sugar: The Bitter Truth youtube video, talking about how sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice are equally bad. I've skimmed around the book and it seems intelligent and doesn't pull any punches. I have a couple problems with the book:

1) It's not just fiber that slows digestion, but soluble fiber. Whole wheat breads and cereals have mostly broken up insoluble fiber, and will spike your blood sugar and insulin more than candy. You can also slow it down by
...more
Katherine
Jul 08, 2013 Katherine rated it liked it
Fat Chance has a lot of logical thoughts and science about our overuse of sugar in our diets. Lustig makes a strong case for the fact that the current obesity rampant in our country, and even around the world, is due to the fact that nearly all our processed foods contain added sugars. These sugars are not empty calories as many attest. Instead, they are causing many metabolic disorders, including diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, and more.
While I totally agree with his ideas, I found this book a
...more
Laurel
Apr 18, 2013 Laurel rated it really liked it
This is a riveting, scary book about the amount of toxic fructose in the world's food supply and the horrific health consequences as a result. Lustig does not let anyone off the hook. If you are not already obese, he warns you might still have a fatty liver which can be worse - yikes!! It is a call to arms to improve the food environment via public reform (like alcohol and tobacco) against added sugar and removed fiber in our food. Lustig contends that in today's food environment the discipline ...more
J.F. Penn
Aug 13, 2013 J.F. Penn rated it it was amazing
Let's face it, most of us know that sugar is bad for us. Most of us know that chocolate every day is a bad thing, right ... but before reading this, I really didn't know how pervasive sugar is, how the governments collude to provide more sugar through fruit juices to children - and how it is more like alcohol and tobacco in terms of its addictiveness. I knew this anecdotally - because I feel it every day - but this book provides the science behind it all. I have already read it twice and bought ...more
Anne
May 08, 2016 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Let's get the big new idea from this book up front: Fructose behaves uniquely with our biochemistry to be stored as fat.
Lustig is an M.D. whose career has been spent heading a clinic to help obese children. As such he's seen a lot of causes of obesity -- cancer on hormone producing glands; genetic variations which make kids chronically hungry; insulin-resistance in pre-teen kids (what used to be called "adult diabetes"); kids whose environments are stressful, triggering the over production of g
...more
Sharon Michael
Apr 16, 2014 Sharon Michael rated it liked it
I was inspired to read this book after watching both YouTube videos by Robert Lustig about the evils of fructose. He makes his case very well that we have evolved to handle fructose in small doses packaged in fiber. That is to say, we can handle the fructose found in fruit. We cannot handle the huge doses of fructose now found in abundance in the foods and beverages of the typical Western diet. I fully understand and agree with the author. However, having taught college level nutrition classes f ...more
Marianka Pille
Jan 31, 2015 Marianka Pille rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening and logically presented discussion of how food choices affect metabolism at the molecular level. Despite that, not a "science" book, definitely readable. I also enjoyed the later portion of the book which discusses the politics and economics of food.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #62 Fat Chance 1 3 Jun 29, 2014 08:29PM  
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  • The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss
  • The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living
  • Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics
  • Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
  • Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America's Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Beat It
  • The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer
  • Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism
  • Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
  • Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health
  • Digestive Wellness: How to Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion
  • Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America
  • Healthy Eating, Healthy World: Unleashing the Power of Plant-Based Nutrition
  • The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction
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Robert H. Lustig, M.D., is an internationally renowned pediatric endocrinologist who has spent the past sixteen yers treating childhood obesity and studying the effects of sugar on the central nervous system, metabolism, and disease. He is the director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital; a member of the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, ...more
More about Robert H. Lustig...

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“The obesity pandemic is due to our altered biochemistry, which is a result of our altered environment.” 3 likes
“The real problem is not in losing the weight but in keeping it off for any meaningful length of time. Numerous sources show that almost every lifestyle intervention works for the first three to six months. But then the weight comes rolling back.” 2 likes
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