Robert Lustig, M.D.

Robert Lustig, M.D.

Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

Robert H. Lustig is Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Lustig graduated from MIT in 1976, and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1980. He completed his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1983, his clinical fellowship at UCSF in 1984, and a post-doctoral fellowship in neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University. He has been a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Tennessee, Memphis. Dr. Lustig has authored more than 85 peer-reviewed articles and 30 reviews and has mentored 20 pediatric endocrine fellows. In his work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, he cared for many children whose hypothalami had been damaged by brain tumors and cancer treatments. Many patients who survived became massively obese. Dr. Lustig theorized that hypothalamic damage led to leptin insensitivity which led to increased insulin secretion. By administering the insulin suppressive agent octreotide, the patients lost weight and started to exercise spontaneously. With subsequent work, Dr. Lustig has been able to weave these threads together into a unified hypothesis regarding the etiology, prevention, and treatment of the current obesity epidemic. Dr. Lustig came to public attention through his efforts to establish that fructose can have serious deleterious effects on human (especially children's) health if consumed in too large amounts. On May 26, 2009, he delivered a lecture called 'Sugar: The Bitter Truth' which was posted on YouTube the following July and 'went viral' with some 5.3 million viewings (as of Dec 29, 2014). In his lecture, Lustig calls fructose a 'poison' and equates its metabolic effects with those of ethanol.