[Thanks to UCTV for alerting End Sugar Addiction about this upcoming series.]


Is sugar a toxin that’s fueling the global obesity epidemic? That’s the argument UCSF’s Dr. Robert Lustig makes in “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” a video that appeared on University of California Television’s (UCTV) YouTube channel in 2009 and has since gone viral with over 2.2 million views, sparking a national dialogue and warranting coverage in The New York Times and most recently on “60 Minutes.” On UCTV Prime’s new series, “The Skinny on Obesity,” Dr. Lustig and two of his UCSF colleagues tease out the science behind this alarming claim and the dire threat it poses to global public health. The 7-part documentary seriespremieres April 13 on UCTV Prime, a YouTube original channel, with new episodes every Friday. Video and bonus content are available at www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity

Throughout the series, Dr. Lustig, a UCSF pediatric endocrinologist, and his colleagues Elissa Epel and Barbara Laraia, co-directors of the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST), unpack the scientific and sociological factors that have contributed to the startling rise in obesity rates over the last 30 years. Featuring interviews, charts and graphic visualizations, the 6 to 10-minute episodes provide a comprehensive perspective on an issue that affects everyone, of any weight.

“The Skinny on Obesity,” an original YouTube series from UCTV Prime

April 13 “An Epidemic for Every Body” How did we get so fat, so fast? The debut episode debunks the theory that obesity only affects the “gluttons and sloths” among us and is, in fact, a public health problem that impacts everyone.

April 20 “Sickeningly Sweet”
 Dr. Lustig illustrates the overabundance of sugar in today’s processed convenience foods and explains how our bodies metabolize these sugars in the same way as alcohol or other toxins, causing damage to the liver and other organs.

April 27  “Hunger and Hormones: A Vicious Cycle” Sugar impacts the brain just as much as the waistline. In this episode, Dr.Lustig explains the biochemical shifts that sugar causes, making us store fat and feel hungry at the same time.

May 4 “Sugar: A Sweet Addiction”
 Sugar isn’t just sweet, it’s addictive. This episode explores the cycle of addiction that sugar causes in the brain, much in the same way as drugs andalcohol.

May 11  “Generation XL”
 An unnerving trend of obese infants is just one indication that obesity can be passed on from mother to fetus. This installment looks towards the next generation, with an emphasis on preventive care and pre-natal health.

May 18  “A Fast-Paced, Fast Food Life” 
The pace of modern life is a key contributor to today’s obesity epidemic. Elissa Epel and Barbara Laraia explain the connection and offer practical and effective solutions that don’t involve dieting and exercise.

May 25 “Drugs, Cigarettes, Alcohol…and Sugar?” Our experts offer a frank indictment of the country’s agricultural policy and food industry, which have made it nearly impossible to avoid sugar in our daily diet, and suggestions for possible remedies.

Miley Cyrus: Smarter than a Registered Dietitian


by Jill Escher

Though I do not generally follow the lives and dramas of teen idols and tv stars, I couldn’t help by notice all the Twitter chatter yesterday about Miley Cyrus’s pronouncements on the evils of gluten and the health benefits of ditching it (go, Miley, go!).  Apparently there was some concern that the petite actress was suffering from an eating disorder, so she tweet-responded to her critics thus:

“For everyone calling me anorexic I have a gluten and lactose allergy. It’s not about weight it’s about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!” And then, even better, “everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, phyisical and mental health is amazing! U won’t go back!”  Since the starlet has more than 5.4 million followers, such unusually bold statements could have (fingers crossed here) some significant influence.

Enter now the quietly outraged response of Registered Dietitians, by definition members of the junk food-industry-sponsored Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who tow the party line that wheat–the main source of gluten– is healthy and we can risk nutritional deficiency without it. Here’s what those RDs (called “experts” by the media, alas) had to say:

RD Rachel Begun said that only those with a gluten-related disorder should cut the food group out.  “People who go gluten-free may gain weight if they rely mostly on highly processed gluten free foods,” she said.  RD Karen Ansel also agreed. “There’s absolutely no evidence that a gluten-free diet promotes weight loss,” she maintained. “However, there is data that indicates that following a gluten-free diet can result in a diet that’s low in key nutrients.”
Having been gluten-free myself for a year and a half, and having reviewed the scientific research on the matter, my take:
1.  People like myself, who do not have celiac disease, often have more subtle sensitivities to gluten and can benefit mightily by cutting it out of the diet.  Benefits reported by those with less-than-celiac-level gluten sensitivities often include: better digestion, weight loss, improvement of many different skin conditions including rashes and acne, clearer thinking, better sleep, loss of tingling in the hands and feet, loss of asthma, and improvement in overall mental health.  For an explanation of why this is so, put in layman’s terms, I recommend the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis.

2.  The line about processed gluten-free foods has some truth to it–if you take out wheat but substitute all manner of processed junk made with sugars, rice flour, corn, soy, tapioca, potato flour, etc, your body will still suffer from spiking blood sugar and all the maladies that come with eating refined, genetically modified, pesticide-ridden foods.  However, who says you need to eat processed food?  In my life, “If it Has a Label, it Stays Off the Table.”  Eating whole, unprocessed food like veggies, greens, fruit, nuts, meat, eggs, fish, and dairy and cheese (for some) is easy, cheap and always the answer.  Fighting junk with junk is not.

3.  No evidence that a gluten-free diet promotes weight loss? Really? Yes, if you substitute gluten-full junk with gluten-free junk, no weight loss, agreed. But ditching gluten and replacing with whole foods without sugar and grains?  I have yet to meet anyone who has NOT lost weight on that plan.

4.  What nutrients are we getting from pasta, bread, bagels, pizza dough, cookies, cereal, crackers, cake and pie, that we don’t get in much greater abundance from unprocessed, real food?  It is hard to believe any RD would actually recommend a diet with those blood-sugar-spiking, nutrition-empty whitejunk over a diet of colorful real foods.  It’s also worth noting, as Dr. Davis points out in his wise book, that gluten is but one of the many problems posed by the modern, industrialized, genetically modified variant thing we call “wheat.”  Wheat contains many elements that cause inflammation, immune problems, irritation, and chronic disease. (Oh, but it’s so cheap and heavily subsidized and what would Big Food be without it?).

Miley, even though I am but a middle-aged mom, you are my hero today.  Thank you for your most excellent tweets and here’s to your good health and that of your 5.4 million followers, whom I hope follow your sage advice!

American Heart Association: A Plague on its Constitutency?


This AHA-endorsed grape juice has 37 grams of sugar per cup. That’s 9 teaspoons of sugar.  NINE teaspoons. Since the AHA itself recommends no more than 5 or 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for an adult female, via what reasoning would the AHA promote such densely sugary, inflammation-promoting, heart-unhealthy stuff?

by Jill Escher, author of “Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss

A few nights ago, as we hosted our annual Passover seder, I marveled at the tableau of delicious grain-free foods set on the table before us.  There was slow-cooked brisket, roasted vegetables, a green salad dressed in a lively vinaigrette, the apple-nut mixture called charoset, and soup made with almond flour faux-matzoh balls and a dense homemade chicken broth.  We were indeed blessed with a meal providing all the yummy satisfaction of Paleo-worthy nourishment and nothing to spike our blood sugar.

Well, not exactly, as there was one item on the table chock full of sugar: the Kedem “100% Pure Grape Juice” endorsed by the American Heart Association because, it says, it “Meets American Heart Association food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age 2.”

Huh?  Do my eyes deceive me?  The blood-sugar blasting syrupy stuff made with grape juice and sweetened with juice concentrates somehow merited a two-and-a-half-inch long endorsement from the nation’s leading nonprofit group ostensibly devoted to helping people prevent heart disease?  Does the AHA not read its own material?  Does the AHA, with its vast scientific advisory board, not understand that sugars and starches (which are long-chain sugars) are the major culprits in today’s epidemics of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease? Do they not know that dietary cholesterol and healthy, natural fats (non vegetable oil) eaten in the absence of high sugar have been largely exonerated?

Could such misinformation even be legal? Isn’t this tantamount to a fraud perpetrated on an unwitting and trustful public?  I don’t mind the fact that the Kedem Food Products Company of New York is selling this juice, but that it would earn a heart-healthy prize from a nonprofit in which millions of people place their trust and their charitable donations, boiled my blood.  (Two Passover references in that sentence, just sayin’.)

As I tried to reflect on the Exodus from Egypt and to feel gratitude for redemption from slavery, I couldn’t help but think of a hidden slavery that’s rampant today: the enslavement-by-addiction countless people have to sugar and processed food, and the fact that chronic consumption of highly inflammatory, disease-making processed food is perpetuated by Big Food sponsored-pseudo charities like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Dietetic Association, now called the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

These trade-groups-disguised-as-benevolent-do-gooders practice, in my opinion, outright deception and fraud on the public.  Rather than promote eating that is truly healthy they promote processed food and then hide behind such misleading mantras as “everything in moderation,” “exercise to burn calories,” and “research says such-and-such-junk has health benefits.”  For the AHA, these heart-check endorsements are a major Ka-Ching, bringing in millions of dollars from processed food companies.  And to cite an equally egregious example, who sponsors the American Dietetic Association, or AND, the group that is lobbying for a monopoly on providing nutrition advice in the US? PepsiCo, Mars, Unilever, Kellogg, General Mills, Coca Cola and Hersheys.  I can’t make this stuff up, so see, eg, http://www.eatright.org/HealthProfessionals/content.aspx?id=7446&terms=sponsors

The truth is that countless millions of Americans are locked in a brutal addiction to sugar and blood-sugar-spiking processed carbs, and the mega faux-charities who reap millions from endless sales of crap like it that way.  This Passover and Easter season, if you want freedom from your sugar addiction, eat real food and avoid the processed stuff like the, uh, plague, no matter how many deceptive AHA heart-checks may appear on the labels.


Book Discount Available for Professionals

Calling all nutritionists, physicians, nurses, therapists, addiction specialists, dieticians, and diabetes counselors.

A bulk discount is available for orders of “Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss.”  It lists for $10 on Amazon, but for a limited time, bulk orders for ten or more copies will be just $5 a copy, plus S/H. This offer is not available through Amazon, only through the author.

The offer expires June 1, 2012, so take advantage while you can.  Your clients will appreciate the honest, straightforward advice and inspiration found in this gem of a girlfriend’s guide.  Just email your order to hijillescher@gmail.com, and you can provide payment and shipment information thereafter.  Another plus: all proceeds go to charity.  Please find a recent review here and podcast here.  Thanks!

Tom Ford: A Most Admirable … Sugar Addict?

by Jill Escher

I am in the midst of a fascination with the fashion designer/filmmaker/all-around genius Tom Ford.  When you look at videos or photos of Tom, you can’t help but notice his perfect skin and glowing good health, and ponder What Does This Gorgeous God of a Man Who Is About 50 But Looks 30 Eat?

   Tom Ford

Happily I found a little snippet about his diet buried in a transcript of a discussion between him and his friend, photographer Lisa Eisner.  It can be found here:  http://blog.bergdorfgoodman.com/womens-style/tom-ford-a-singular-man

We find out, surprise surprise, that he’s a very healthy eater who eschews soda and drinks only water.  But we also find out something else.  Read on:

Tom Ford: …. I’m the same weight now that I was when I was thirty-three years old. I weigh myself every day. If I gain more than three pounds, I eat vegetables for two or three days until I get back down to my weight.

LISA Eisner: That is a health diet too . . . less calories and you live longer.

TF: Absolutely. I eat healthy foods. I don’t eat any fried foods ever. I never ever have ice cream; I probably haven’t had it in fifteen years. I eat sorbet instead. I definitely watch what I eat. Then, on top of it, I eat candy. [laughs] It’s true! I eat really healthy foods, but then at least once a day I eat some total piece of junk sugar.

LISA: And drink Diet Coke.

TF: Not any more. I quit because of the artificial sweeteners. I’d been trying to do that for years. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t do any drugs. It’s very exciting. A life on water . . . You actually discover that water has a flavor.

LISA: Yes?

TF: I’m kidding. Water is so boring! But that’s all I drink.


So there you have it, the Perfect Tom Ford eats a shmush of sugar every day, and really, he does not seem any worse for it.  Now, if he ate the average American dose of 22 tsp a day along with a bunch of fries and Cokes I think the picture would be quite different–we might have a Tom with blotchy skin, bags under his eyes, a spare tire around the middle, and no energy for his many amazing creative pursuits.  But perhaps the lesson is this: if you’re eating right 90% of the time, a little plop of sugar probably won’t do much harm.  Sugar Addicts who fear cutting out the white stuff completely might aspire to the Tom Ford model instead of abstaining altogether. 

For those of you who share my admiration for the man, check out this fine little documentary from OWN:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsmJ_l4jZFQEven if you care nothing for fashion you can’t help but be inspired at the man’s drive, creativity, and of course, complexion.

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