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  • Writer's pictureLee Reeves

Book Review: Metabolical

Shortly after my T2D diagnosis in January 2023, I decided I needed to know as much as possible about how I ended up in this situation.


I've struggled with my weight as an adult, but I felt pretty good after losing 65 lbs in 2020-21 and keeping it off. It was a shock to end up in the hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis and be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.



"Metabolical (The Lure and Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine)" by Robert H. Lustig, MD, was the first book I ordered. I knew from previous research that food today was different than just 50 years ago. What I did not know (at least the extent of) was how many chronic diseases were connected to metabolic disease.


Published in 2021, I felt like "Metabolical" was an excellent place to start - I figured most of the recent information was likely included. I did not know - but do now - that Robert Lustig is one of the luminaries in this field of dietary research.


At its core, "Metabolical" is a book that explores the current obesity epidemic and the food industry and government policies' role in it. Here are some of the most relevant points from the book:

  1. Obesity is a complex issue caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors, and it is not simply a matter of personal choice or willpower. Lustig points out that "genetics haven't changed in fifty years, but the environment sure has."

  2. The food industry has played a significant role in the obesity epidemic by creating and marketing highly processed foods high in sugar, fat, and salt and low in nutrients. According to Lustig, the amount of processing makes a critical difference.

  3. The food industry has influenced the government's dietary guidelines, and they have been slow to recognize processed foods' role in the obesity epidemic.

  4. The foods we should eat "1) protect the liver, and 2) feed the gut. Those foods that satisfy both precepts are healthy; those that do neither are poison, and those that do one or the other are bad (but less bad)."

  5. Sugar is a significant contributor to obesity and other health problems, and it should be treated as a public health issue, just like tobacco.

  6. Personal responsibility is essential, but it is not enough to solve the obesity epidemic. We need systemic changes that address the root causes of the problem, such as improving access to healthy food, reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, and implementing policies that support healthy lifestyles.

Overall, "Metabolical" provides a critical analysis of the current state of the food industry and the obesity epidemic, and it calls for systemic changes to address these issues. As a new diabetic, I liked most how Lustig gave me context on how the human body reacts to our diet and how that creates metabolic dysfunction.


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