• Fat Chance

  • Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
  • By: Robert H. Lustig
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
  • Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,258 ratings)

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Fat Chance

By: Robert H. Lustig
Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
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Publisher's Summary

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 pouring more sugar in. The result has been a perfect storm, disastrously altering our biochemistry and driving our eating habits out of our control.

To help us lose weight and recover our health, Lustig presents personal strategies to readjust the key hormones that regulate hunger, reward, and stress; and societal strategies to improve the health of the next generation. Compelling, controversial, and completely based in science, Fat Chance debunks the widely held notion to prove "a calorie is NOT a calorie", and takes that science to its logical conclusion to improve health worldwide.

©2012 Robert H. Lustig (P)2012 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"No scientist has done more in the last 50 years to alert Americans to the potential dangers of sugar in the diet than Dr. Robert Lustig.” (Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat)

“Our eating habits are killing us. In this timely and important book, Dr. Robert Lustig presents the scientific evidence for the toxicity of sugar and the disastrous effects of modern industrial food on the hormones that control hunger, satiety, and weight. He gives recommendations for a personal solution to the problem we face and also suggests a public policy solution. Fat Chance is the best book I've read on the relationship between diet and health and the clearest explanation of epidemic obesity in our society.”–Andrew Weil, MD, author of Spontaneous Happiness and You Can’t Afford to Get Sick)

Fat Chance is THE manifesto for our time. It reveals the real reasons we why we are a fat nation and how to cure the obesity epidemic. It gets right to the root of the problem, which is not gluttony and sloth, as the food industry, government and your neighbor would have you believe. It is because we are drowning in a sea of sugar which poisons our metabolism, shrinks our brains, and threatens our national security and global competitiveness. Every American, politician, teacher, and business leader must read this book. Our nation's future depends on it.” (Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution)

What listeners say about Fat Chance

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Changed the Way I Eat

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about nutrition, how the body processes food/nutrients/sugars, and is looking for more education as a whole on the subject. I will say the beginning was a bit slow and some parts got very technical for a listener who has no background on anatomy/ body break down structures. I listened to those sections twice to try to understand the material. Once I made it past those rough patches though, I flew through the book. This book changed the way I look at and eat sugar and processed foods. I am so conscious of it all in the grocery store now, so it has changed the way I shop as well. Would definitely recommend.

41 people found this helpful

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Well-written, well-read, solid content

I have heard Lustig interviewed before on Jimmy Moore's low-carb podcast and by Alec Baldwin. I find him to be very credible. I found the writing style very informative and engaging, and I thought JT Ross was a very good narrator...striking just the right tone for the book overall...however, his mispronunciation of the word "satiety" (just Google it for the correct pronunciation) was pretty distracting, as the word occurs often. Of course, we all bring our preconceptions to a book when we read it, and I was really hoping for more practical advice on "what to eat" than I ended up with. Yes, the essential information is there...but it would have been much more helpful to me personally if there had been a section along the lines of "here are sample menus which would be supported by Lustig's presentation of science". It might be that it came across better in reading the book visually...but I didn't pick up much of that here. I think people writing for this subject often don't realize that many of us just "don't speak the language of food" and really need someone to "paint a picture" for us. I must say I did feel like he really did a tremendous job of busting stereotypes and explaining both why we are where we are with the obesity epidemic and how best to proceed as a society. I liked the way he went thru all the popular diets and explained both their strengths and weaknesses. So I found the book quite enjoyable overall and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to people who are looking to get their bearings on the myriad of varying opinions about diet and exercise.

33 people found this helpful

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Listen to the first half, then stop

I love this book; I hate this book.

I love the "sugar is bad for you metabolically" story, how the conventional wisdom of a-calorie-is-a-calorie is bunk, how Ancel Keys and the lipid hypothesis is bunk, how hormones matter in understanding why we are where we are. As an expert in the field, Lustig's viewpoint gives us valid information upon how to get control over our bodies, and to shape future research. I think he's right, but I'm sure further research will illuminate how the body works. After all, Leptin wasn't even discovered until 1994, not even 20 years ago. I wish he'd look deeper in to the anti-nutrients present in all grain, but nonetheless, the fructose story is compelling.

But then Lustig the doctor becomes Lustig the amateur Economist/public policy wizard, but his lack of expertise won't stop him from how to diagnose and fix the problem through intervention. The Hippocratic oath statement of "never do harm" to anyone doesn't apply to Lustig's viewpoint of hold government guns, restrict people's choices, and rearrange all economic forces to fix a health problem. 1) Does this intervention "cause harm"? How would Lustig know? 2) Would it be effective?

Lustig is way out of his expertise realm here, but no matter; he's writing a prescription. Force the people who don't agree with me to do it my way, because sugar is addictive, and therefore, people aren't really choosing. The philosophical issue of "who owns your body" doesn't matter; Lustig needs to control your body to save the world from Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. Because some people are addicted, and because the food industry manipulates you into making unhealthy choices. The current government regulatory scheme has been co-opted by the food industry, Lustig recounts, and so his prescription is -- more government action!

Perhaps Lustig could spend more time reading the works of experts on Regulatory Capture, in which the assertion is made that the mere existence of government regulation will always result in capture and dominance by the major players, with small players forced out. Lustig sees the food industry pulling the strings of the FDA (but he fails to talk about big pharma doing so, perhaps too close to challenging his own profession), and how politics runs our agricultural policy and shapes the food pyramid, as dominated by the biggest Agricultural interests. He talks about how the McGovern led commission on Nutrition and Human Needs manipulated us into believing Ancel Keys, and how we were completely duped. Instead of removing these harmful toxins from our lives, he asks for more. Who writes the regulations? Either current or former "experts" from the regulated industry. Lustig diagnoses the financial crisis in a one-sentence assertion, but didn't say the "prescription" to fix it, Dodd-Frank, was written by members of the industry.

Special interests are in control, so, what we need is the *right* special interests, different special interests, those influenced by Lustig, not those influenced by Keys. Does he have research to back this assertion? If he does, he doesn't show it. Oh, he cherry-picks some questionable anecdotes in order to get us to believe his model works. His choices are alcohol and tobacco, government intervention works here. It does? Here, Lustig appeals to our emotions, as politicians do. It's a way to get your cortisol working, so your Amygdala overwhelms the neocortex. It's how politics works. It's hormonal manipulation, and it's very addictive. In the economic realm, if I manipulate you, you may make choices you regret, but I have to repeat that for each and every choice. In the political realm, if I can manipulate 51% of those who vote to take away the choices of the 49%, then my guy gets to keep taking away the choices from the minority. One manipulation, many lasting effects, all enforced with government guns. Disobey, and go to jail. So more jail equals less obesity. Regulation *is* sugar; we need to lower it in our diets, but like Ancel Keys, we're off chasing the symptoms of special interests floating around the capital like small dense LDL. How they got here, says Lustig, is greed (a newly discovered substance) and Lustig prescribes a pill to drive them away.

Lustig is addicted to political power, he sees its ill effects, but he cannot help himself, he wants more. He doesn't understand the complex inter-workings of billions of people making simultaneous decisions, but no matter, if he can use the drug on you, and mobilize you to action, you and he can control the rest of people and make the world a better place. How many people have tried this? Has it worked? Did it "do no harm"? By Lustig's own examples in just the US context, it has failed. But as an economic quack, Lustig repeats the safe conventional wisdom, which is to clamp down, through force, on those who disagree. Writing more prescriptions for interventions, except we don't examine the patients, only the macro population, and then, completely misinterpret the data to suit our story.

So listen to the first half that challenges conventional wisdom with a provocative new viewpoint, and throw away the half that says conventional wisdom, bigger government, solves the problem.

31 people found this helpful

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The Case Against Modern Diet.... Closed

If you could sum up Fat Chance in three words, what would they be?

Exhaustive, Comprehensive, Conclusive

What other book might you compare Fat Chance to and why?

Mindsight by Daniel Siegel. Siegel, and especially, Lustig, have trolled vast amounts of modern research data and assembled the myriad pieces into articulate and persuasive arguments for their respective causes: mindfulness in Siegel's case and a diet based on evolutionary principles in Lustig's. Each of these authors provide modern empirical support for wisdom that has been known for millenia.

Which scene was your favorite?

One sugary beverage a day, whether fruit juice or a pop, equals 10-12 pounds of weight gain per year. Six month old infants are being seen at obesity clinics due to the sugar added added to baby formula.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes and I nearly did.

Any additional comments?

Lustig presents a comprehensive analysis of the problem of modern diet, including the contributions of government and industry.

18 people found this helpful

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Great medical content, questionable politics

Dr. Lustig writes a compelling case against sugar. Fructose, a component of table sugar, is added to almost all processed food - and it's killing us. I agree with the author that sugar (and carbs) are the real dangers in our diet rather than fat. And his book is full of evidence.

Where I think the book falls a little short is in his disavowal of personal responsibility. I believe that we can all choose to eat less sugar, exercise more, and consume more fiber. The author, on the other hand, seems to think our poor health is out of our control.


Moreover, the author's politics are difficult to understand. He correctly points out the dangers of government: politicians being owned by big food, governmental misguidance, and ineffective government programs. Yet, he concludes that the only solution to the problem is more government - the very government he criticized.

The narration is FANTASTIC!

17 people found this helpful

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Important...Mandatory...and Exhausting.

Dr. Lustig is the champion of the "sugar is poison" subject. His scientific message about the infiltration of sugar and processed food throughout the world and the growing list of harmful health effects should be mandatory reading for everyone...simply so one can make better choices.

The first half of the book Dr. Lustig uses a wry, fresh sense of humor to keep us engaged but somewhere around half-way the sense of humor (and connection) goes away and the science and soapbox take over. This is an important work but it must be said that it is also his first book and a book is not a short form speech. I am surprised his editor did not guide him to a more balanced effort.

Following his substantial scientific evidence, Dr. Lustig does offer examinations of nearly every recent diet plan to have come along in the last few decades...and even early man. He offers a host of solutions ranging from medical, political, economic, education and business to common sense. However, the message becomes its own burden...a weight of its own that does not empower or really inspire...

I do recommend the book!!! I learned a great deal and have already had a lot of exposure to the subject. In an ironic twist though the title of the book says it all..."Fat Chance"...which to me means that we will not or cannot succeed in overcoming the acceptance of the harmful aspects of sugar and processed food into our world....and that was the cumulative feeling I had when finishing the book.

15 people found this helpful

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Good info, too much liberal Politics

What disappointed you about Fat Chance?

I bought this book after viewing the lecture the author made. The video is on youtube. I liked the lecture and wanted to know more about his studies. The first half of the book had some new, interesting, and old information. I liked some of the examples and facts and he was very compelling. From time to time I noticed a pattern. This author weaves his politics into the book. This would be OK if it had to do with the subject at hand, but no, he just came off as being unprofessional in my opinion. He would continually prop up liberals and put down conservatives. The second half of the book he goes overboard. If you are going to buy the book, you should stop reading here since I might spoil it for you. He suggests you ID kids before buying soda. He directly and indirectly suggests the government should control the supply of food and restrict sugar supply. I even agree with him on sugar being a poison but his dictator like suggestions left me felling like I got slapped across the face. If your a hard liberal, pro huge strong government, you might actually like this book. If your like myself, bought this book because you wanted to educate and better your health, you might only want to read the first half. If you love politics read the whole thing. A much better book I recommend is "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health" Its a much better book, very positive and full of facts. Gary Taubes also comes out as a much more likable person. I don't know what Mr. Taubes political affiliation is and when I buy a diet book, that is the way I like it. I will not be purchasing anymore books from Robert Lustig, in fact, I will return this one.

What could Robert H. Lustig have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Take away this left politics and be more neutral.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jonathan Todd Ross?

Did not care much one way or the other.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment at first and anger when I got done reading it.

Any additional comments?

After reading the whole book, the very least I can say is not recommended.

14 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Information, helped me lose 10 pounds.

Excelent book!!!

Provides a better understand of food and sugar's impact on the body. Anyone having difficulty losing weight, or having health issues should read this book.

Most important issue of our generation!!!

12 people found this helpful

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  • B
  • 01-28-13

A must read for anyone interested in obesity

Would you consider the audio edition of Fat Chance to be better than the print version?

I didn't read the print version, but the audio edition was great. It was paced well, and captured the humorous portions of the book well.

Any additional comments?

Fat Chance was great. I can't highly recommend it enough. I will say I noticed at least two mistakes. Wellbutrin isn't an SSRI and dextrin is not a sugar. It is a soluble fiber. I actually really found the political discussions intriguing. I've read another review about it stuffing liberal biases in, but I didn't really see that.

11 people found this helpful

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Very Informative

Great detail about this problem and ways that many people can find some understanding about this problem.

6 people found this helpful