Lustig and Taubes on Australian TV

      17 Comments on Lustig and Taubes on Australian TV

We went away for the weekend to attend my goddaughter’s wedding, then I came back to find myself swamped with software work.  (I’m not complaining, mind you.  I only get swamped with software work when people buy my software and I have to convert their old data.)  I need to tackle that tonight, but I hope to write a post tomorrow.

In the meantime, you might enjoy watching a video about sugar, fat and obesity that aired on Australian TV.  A friend from Australia sent me the link and was pleased, as I am, to see a national network declaring that the war on dietary fat may have been a mistake.  Dr. Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes are both featured prominently in the video.

You can watch the video here.


17 thoughts on “Lustig and Taubes on Australian TV

  1. Mark.

    You do know that has a new article about inaccurate documentaries that brings up Fat Head’s criticism of Spurlock’s work, yes? But you’re busy.

    Just found out about that today.

  2. John

    Nice to see all the main gurus in the same special, but what the hell is Lustig talking about with sugar being the same as the Maillard reaction in your guts? The Maillard reaction relates to how well food browns with the application of heat. Sugar can help but is not necessary to it. Lustig is either crummy (or lazy) with metaphors or does not know how to cook.

    I wasn’t familiar with the Maillard reaction and didn’t get his point there either.

    1. Leanne

      Chemical alterations that require the application of heat outside of the body can be mediated inside the body by enzymes or hormones. Witness glycation, where cellular structures are stiffened and weakened by excess glucose in the blood. Just now, in the Glycation article on Wikipedia under “Endogenous” (within the body), I discovered that fructose and galactose are 10 times worse than glucose for this. I tend to refer to glycation as “caramelization”. Outside the body the creation of caramel requires sugar and heat – inside it does not. After looking at the Wikipedia article on the Maillard reaction, though (specifically under “Physiology”, where it discusses the Maillard reaction as it takes place within the body), it seems that THAT process is the actual culprit…but “caramelization” immediately conjures up images in people’s minds that give a reasonable approximation of what is actually taking place.

      Thank you SO much for that excellent documentary, Tom. I’m going to have to share it around with as many people as I can manage.

    2. Eric from belgium

      The Maillard reaction is in general tems a reaction between proteins and sugars, leading to advanced glycation end products known as AGE.

      On the one hand, it is this reaction that gives a steak its nice taste (if cooked over 150°c), and on the other hand it is a natural process in the metabolism. Maillard reaction is *not* the same as caramelisation as many cooks incorrectly believe.

      One of the current thoughts trends is that excessive accumulation of AGEs is the cause of several diseases, and yes, AGEs can be produced in excess in the body by eating too much sugar(s), hence the metaphor of Lustig.

      Excess AGE in the body is believed to cause damage by not being easily filtered out by the kidneys, and cross-linking with other proteins. Glaucoma is an example.

      In simpler words, stop eating sugar or you’ll go blind, need kidney transplant, have a stroke and Alzheimer (now, what was his first name again…)

      Check out

      My $0.02…

      I knew about AGEs, but hadn’t heard of the Maillard reaction.

      1. cancerclasses

        From the Wikipedia article re Fructose, subheading FRUCTOSE and MAILLARD REACTION:
        “Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction, non-enzymatic browning, with amino acids. Because fructose exists to a greater extent in the open-chain form than does glucose, the initial stages of the Maillard reaction occurs more rapidly than with glucose. Therefore, fructose potentially may contribute to changes in food palatability, as well as other nutritional effects, such as excessive browning, volume and tenderness reduction during cake preparation, and formation of mutagenic compounds.[9]”

        Mutagenic as in causing cancer, not good.

      2. Eric from belgium

        Hey Tom

        In fact, “controlling”‘ and “Taming” the Maillard reaction is what makes a great cook stand apart from a poor one. One of the key principles in cooking a piece of meat is to have enough heat available to evaporate the water from the pan fast enough to reach the Mailliard temperature of 150°c. For example, if you overcrowd a pan by putting too much meat in it, the water will squeeze out of the piece of meat, and cover the pan.

        As most people know, water boils at 100°c, and no matter how much heat you apply to the pan, the temperature will remain at 100, and you end up boiling meat rather than searing it at 150°c (is searing the correct term??).

        This is mistake 101 that people do when cooking a piece of meat. The key is to find the right balance between enough heat to evaporate the water as is comes off the meat so that it does not cool the pan down. This browning is what creates the good meaty taste. And again, it is not the same chemistry as caramelisation, which is a pyrolysis (decomposition by heat) whereas Maillard is a reaction between sugar and amino acids.

        Anyway, enough boring science, for those interested read this interesting article on Modernist Cuisine at

        I also advise those interested to read on the work of my “Master of Thinking” (rather poor translation from French..) Herve This, who is the father of Molecular Gastronomy, and who has dedicated his career to understanding the physics and chemistry of cooking.

        Oh, by the way, Mr Louis Camille Maillard was also a french bloke, who discovered this famous reaction in 1911, which was ignored for decades. He died in 1936 before his discovery was truly acknowledged as both a contribution to gastronomy, and to medecine, proposing an understanding of the processes of aging and of the evolution of some diseases.

        Anyway, the bottom line is too much sugar+proteins = excess substances that your body cannot deal with and that creates damage by binding to other proteins.

        However, as I always like to play Devil’s advocate, let’s not forget that agriculture, preserving foods, and dependency on carbs for survival is what has allowed humanity to become what it now is. On the other hand, too much of it may be our downfall.

        Kind regards to all

        I don’t have to worry about the sugar+proteins part of it.

  3. js290

    News pieces like that are probably better than New Zealand deporting fat people out of their country.

    I guess we take the good with the bad.

  4. Pieter


    I’ve always thought that the Maillard reaction that browns meat was nothing but an extreme heat-accelerated version of the same garden-variety glycation that makes high blood sugar damaging.

    Sure, you don’t need overt added sugar in the form of marinades etc. to brown meat, but that’s because meat already contains enough glucose in the form of glycogen.

    And Lustig seems not to be the only one who considers glycation and the Maillard reaction to live on the same continuum:

  5. Leon

    I’d be interested to know Tom, if you’d agree with having sugar regulated, as the video mentions, along alcohol & tobacco? I think that’s asking too much.

    No, I don’t agree sugar should be regulated. In Lustig’s book, he points out how government food policy helped drive the obesity/diabetes epidemic, then calls for government to fix it. Why he trusts government to do anything right when it comes to food is beyond me.

    And seriously, are we going to turn more people into criminals? For buying or selling sugar?

    1. Gunther

      Lustig doesn’t trust government either. In his speech ‘the bitter truth’, he hit back at Nixon and McGovern for their food ‘policies’. However, voters can put pressure on their elected officials. That’s what government is for: to do what they’re told by their electorate. Individual efforts are great, but doomed to fail against corporate power.

      Individuals are far from helpless against corporate power. Unlike with government, we can crash a corporation by simply refusing to buy what it sells. (Of course these days, that means the government would rush in and give them our money anyway in the form of a bailout.)

      The job of government isn’t to “do what they’re told by their electorate.” That’s how we end up with abominations like ObamaCare. That’s how we ended up 16 trillion dollars in debt. The framers of the Constitution were quite worried about a majority of the electorate deciding government should do all kinds of things that would violate the freedoms and/or property rights of the minority, which is why the Constitution specified a short list of powers granted to the federal government. That’s also why the big-government types and nanny-staters like to pretend the Constitution doesn’t exist.

  6. Firebird

    Funny that they call sugar the “new enemy” when people knew about it for years, until the government stepped in.

    Too true.

  7. Julie

    It’s really encouraging to see a major network talking about the dangers of sugars and extra carbs. Do you think this means the tide is turning?

    I already believed the tide is turning.

  8. melancholyaeon

    Forgive me for emphasizing what other commenters above have noted: the Maillard reaction is precisely the cause of endogenous advanced glycation, whose end products are the cause of many of the problems diabetics face – such as blindness and kidney failure.

    Everyone with diabetes, or interested in discussing diabetes, is hopefully aware of this.

    And now that we are, we can also understand why people who just follow the ADA diet (high in carbs) and try to cover with ever increasing amounts of insulin, still in the end often go blind, have heart disease, kidney problems, lose feet, etc. This happened to my mother, and still happens to many others who perfectly comply with the ADA regime and yet still suffer complications.

    Because they still suffer from the damage caused by the AGEs from having high sugar levels at all. Low carb is crucial when you understand this context. 😀 Best wishes.

    The ADA diet ought to be considered malpractice.


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