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Professor Robert Lustig MD

Robert Lustig

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.

Research Interests:

Professor Lustig has developed a strong 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.

Dr Lustig has done a great deal of excellent work in the area of endocrine care, with many children whose hypothalami were damaged by various types of brain tumors, radiation, chemotherapy and various surgeries. What happened in these cases was that patients who lived had very serious obesity problems. Lustig theorized that the damage to the hypothalamus caused the inability to be able to sense the hormone leptin. This causes a starvation response.

Repairing the hypothalamus was not possible so he noted that patients had more activity in their vagus nerve, and this boosted insulin secretion. Lustig was able to give them octreotide, which is an insulin suppressive agent. He was able to get these patients to lose a great deal of weight.

Also, Lustig was able to get them to exercise a great deal more. This work led him to develop his unified theory on obesity. This work also has led him to look into the role of fructose in the development of chronic diseases.

Lustig’s work has helped the scientific community make a tremendous amount of progress in the fight against both obesity and the related development of chronic diseases. He also is leading the public relations fight in the US against the use of high fructose corn syrup that is prevalent in so many packaged foods today.


Dr Lustig is from Brooklyn, NY, and he graduated from MIT in 1976. He earned his MD in 1980 from Cornell University Medical College. He did his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1983, and his clinical fellowship was performed at the University of San Francisco in 1984.

Over the years, Lustig has written 85 peer-reviewed articles and 30 reviews. He also has been active in these organizations over his long career:

  • Chairman – Ad hoc Obesity Task Force of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society
  • Member – Obesity Task Force of the Endocrine Society
  • Member – Pediatric Obesity Devices Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration
  • Member – Steering Committee of the International Endocrine Alliance to Combat Obesity

New book

On 3 January 2013, Dr Lustig has a new book being released about how to beat disease and obesity by cutting out sugar and processed food from your diet.  The book is called, Fat Chance:  The bitter truth about sugar.  You can purchase a copy via our Amazon links here.

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.

Recent Publications:

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