Dietary Sugar Intake is the Leading Cause of Metabolic Disease

Energy balance and metabolic function disorders are specialty areas within nutrition science where I have particular educational expertise.  As many of you may know, I’ve spoken extensively over the years about the harmful effects of dietary sugar including less obvious metabolic consequences like mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular glycation and premature aging, and mood disorders. Contrary to outdated science and marketing efforts by the food industry the metabolic diseases caused by sugar intake are not the result of overconsuming calories and a sedentary lifestyle (gluttony and sloth). Sugar-induced metabolic dysfunction is a direct result of the overconsumption of a substance that has no caloric value, no nutritional value, and biochemically produces toxicity within our cellular structures and hormonal pathways. In 1538 the German scientist, Paracelsus, coined the phrase “The dose makes the poison”. This is certainly true for sugar consumption in this country. Today, the average American consumes 97lbs of sugar per year.  Compare that to our ancestors who consumed 4-5lbs per year, mainly from wild honey and fruits. Sugar is practically in everything we eat, in fact, 75% of foods sold in a grocery store contain some form of sugar.  Combine that with the Standard American Diet (SAD) which now consists of 65% refined, grain-based carbohydrates and you have generations of Americans at risk of developing metabolic dysfunction.  According to current medical analysis, 85% of Americans are hyperglycemic in the pre-diabetic range without any awareness of their condition. To me, this is a national health-care emergency that needs to be properly recognized by not only medical providers but government authorities at every level and the food industry. We spend millions of taxpayer dollars and an enormous amount of time and energy managing the health and legal implications of recreational drugs, prescription drugs, environmental toxins, and public safety measures.  Imagine what we could accomplish for millions of “metabolically sick” Americans if we treated sugar as an addictive substance causing a public health crisis!

One doctor who I have the utmost respect for and who has been an essential resource in my education about sugar and metabolic health is Robert Lustig, MD. Dr. Lustig is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He specializes in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. His research and clinical practice have focused on childhood obesity and diabetes. He is a leading public health authority on the impact sugar has on fueling diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome epidemics, and on addressing changes in the food environment to reverse these chronic diseases.

Dr. Lustig is a prolific writer and speaker, and I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from his extensive library of lectures, books, and speaking engagements. If you consume sugar and refined carbohydrates on a regular basis and/or suffer from metabolic dysfunction (metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, diabetes, weight gain, fatty liver, mood disorders, dyslipidemia, etc.) I hope these quotes may be a “call to action” that motivate you to remove sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed industrial foods from your diet.  Dietary modification and nutritional therapy must be personalized and customized to achieve the best results. There is never a one-size-fits-all approach!  If you need education and guidance on designing a diet for optimal metabolic health please visit our website,


  • “Sugar is now the most ubiquitous foodstuff worldwide, and has been added to virtually every processed food, limiting consumer choice and the ability to avoid it. Approximately 80 percent of the 6,000,000 consumer packaged foods in the United States have added caloric sweeteners.”
  • “Sugar’s not dangerous because of its calories, or because it makes you fat. Sugar is dangerous because it’s sugar. It’s not nutrition. When consumed in excess, it’s a toxin. And it’s addictive.”
  • “Two inconvenient truths:  1. There is no medicalized prevention for chronic metabolic disease. There’s just long-term treatment.
    2. You can’t fix healthcare until you fix health. You can’t fix health until you fix diet. And you can’t fix diet until you know what the hell is wrong.”
  • “Sugar causes diseases: unrelated to their calories and unrelated to the attendant weight gain. It’s an independent primary-risk factor. Now, there will be food-industry people who deny it until the day they die, because their livelihood depends on it.”
  • “The negative effects sugar has on our bodies are staggering: sugar alters our hormones so we don’t register hunger the way we normally would, making us eat more; it spikes our dopamine, making us requiring us to eat more sugar for the same effect; and it affects our liver in the same way that alcohol does. We consume an astounding 18 bags of sugar per year, and half of that is added sugar, hidden away in our ketchup and potato chips under names like brown rice syrup and fruit puree “
  • “The key to the kingdom is that it is not about obesity, it is about metabolic dysfunction and anyone can get it, and that’s what makes it a public health crisis, because obesity is a result of the problem, not the cause.”
  • “I never want to hear any of you talk about the obesity epidemic ever again, because that is the food industry’s mantra, that is what they use to obfuscate the truth, and you play right into it when you talk about it.”
  • “The cholesterol and calorie hypotheses are both dead — it is time to focus on the real culprit: insulin resistance.”
  • “You are not what you eat. You are what you metabolize.”
  • “You don’t die of obesity; you die of the diseases that “travel” with it. It’s these metabolic decompensations that make obesity the scourge that it is. Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and dementia–the things that kill you under the concept of “metabolic syndrome.”
  • “The key to the chronic disease kingdom is that there are not four separate problems (nutrition, metabolism, inflammation, immunity); there’s only one and they are all related. Screw up one and you screw up the other three.”

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Individuals should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The statements made in this informational document have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any product discussed is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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