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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  5,276 ratings  ·  652 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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 27th 2012 by Hudson Street Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  5,276 ratings  ·  652 reviews

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Feb 02, 2013 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
John Braine
May 02, 2013 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.

Feb 11, 2013 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
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
John Wiltshire
Nov 17, 2014 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
Feb 22, 2015 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
Apr 17, 2013 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
Mar 10, 2013 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. ...more
Thomas Ray
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: physiology
The enemy is insulin resistance. Causes liver disease, diabetes, other metabolic disease.


Avoid sugar. Avoid processed food (anything nonperishable).

Get your plant-based foods in fresh intact form: nutrients encased in a protective sheath of fiber. Slows absorption, reduces overeating, protects liver from rush of nutrients. Fresh intact fruits, vegetables, nuts, intact whole grains. If the fiber has been polished out or juiced or frozen, it can't do its job.

Every page of the first half o
Jun 12, 2016 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.

Jan 26, 2013 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.


• GuardianUK: Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar by Robert Lustig – review and Sugar, not fat, exposed as deadly vil
Mar 19, 2013 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
Jan 12, 2013 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
Max Skidmore
Mar 24, 2013 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
Michael Perkins
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Article that explains the thesis of the book.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I devoured this book. Much of it is rather scientific and it took extra time and effort to understand, but now that I know what happens in my body when I consume sugar and why, I feel so empowered. Lustig is clearly passionate on the subject and for good reason. While I might not totally agree with him on what should be done from a social/political standpoint, he absolutely convinced me that excess sugar consumption is making all of us sick. And I appreciate that he used science instead of scare ...more
Christina Dudley
Nov 28, 2012 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
Jan 26, 2013 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
Apr 08, 2013 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
Jan 15, 2013 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
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fat Chance covers much of the same info as Gary Taubes's books but is written by a medical scientist instead of by a professional writer. Usually this would give the advantage to the scientist, but Gary Taubes is one of the few science reporters in the country who understands that science (or reporting, for that matter) means asking "How do they know that?" so I also recommend those.
Dr. Lustig deserves a lot of credit for publicly speaking out to smash some of the common myths about the obesity
Thomas DeWolf
Jun 12, 2013 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
Jan 05, 2013 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
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting book which makes you think about what you are eating and why you are eating it. I definitely knew that eating sugar made you want to eat more but I never realised sugar can actually fuel hunger and block that full feeling.

I found the use of scientific studies reassuring and it didn't feel like a diet book. It felt more like an explanation of basic nutrition explaining why certain food types are good for you. It also highlighted the way sugar is an addictive substance which
Eddie Clarke
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, politics, 2013, food
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
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Lots of things I didn't know from a pediatric endocrinologist who treats large numbers of very sick children who apparently had too much soda in his opinion but I firmly believe that pesticides have done these things. I don't drink soda and only drank it as a child when we went PCS which is Permanent Change of Station from one air base to another. My parents believed it was unhealthy so they didn't buy it but we could drink it on trips. Like Princess Diana soda makes me sick so its easy for me t ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book provides a lot of information on how sugar (primarily fructose) affects health. Robert Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist and he knows what he's talking about. He gets pretty fired up sometimes talking about this matter, probably because he deals with obese children. It must break his heart and make him angry to see the suffering caused by overuse of high fructose corn syrup in processed food. A calorie is not just a calorie and the blame placed upon obese individuals is upsetting to ...more
Sarthak Gupta
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This should be a compulsory read for everyone. An absolute eye-opener regarding the true cause of rising obesity & metabolic disease in the world. This book proves how "a calorie is NOT just a calorie". It details how our hormones react differently to different foods, why diets like Keto/Vegan are successful and what is the common denominator among them that makes them so. Book also shows a big example of corporate greed. Do read. ...more
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}

'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 (th
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By writing this book, IMHO, Dr. Robert Lustig has done a great service to all the people in the world suffering from what some doctors had earlier labeled as "Western Diseases" or "Diseases of Civilization". These include Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Fatty Liver Disease, Gout and the king of them all, Obesity.

You can get the gist of this book from his many lectures available for free on YouTube; the most popular being "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", which has close to 7 million views as I am writin
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #62 Fat Chance 1 4 Jun 29, 2014 08:29PM  

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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

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