In Episode #215, I’m joined by Dr Richard Johnson to discuss obesity, fructose, and metabolic disease.
“Obesity itself isn’t the problem – it’s the things that accompany obesity.”
“Fructose” has become something of a fear word in modern diet culture. It is often positioned as the villain, without the in-depth breakdown of where we are sourcing this fructose and the quantities it is consumed in. Similarly, the relationship between health and obesity is hotly contested. Dr Richard Johnson sits down with me today to clarify the scientific relationship between these factors, getting into what the evidence tells us.
As a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado, Dr Richard Johnson is well versed to speak on this topic. He is a clinician, educator, and researcher, and has been at the forefront of obesity and diabetes research for more than 20 years. He takes special interest in the role of sugar (especially fructose) and uric acid, and has been extensively cited from his publications in top medical journals.
“The main sources of fructose for us are not fruits. It’s the sugar we’re eating that has the fructose… it’s the sugar intake in the last century that correlates with this rise in obesity.”
In this episode, we take a broader view at the history of obesity before honing in on the biology and mechanisms. We discuss the ideology of obesity, whether you can be healthy at any size, and the degree of risk related to where you store fat. We also cover a variety of animal studies, sources of fructose, and how the modern food environment shapes our body weight.
Specifically, we discuss:
- Intro [0:00]
- History of Obesity [2:30]
- Body Fat & Health Span [10:36]
- Causes & Behavioral Patterns [23:55]
- Fructose vs Excess Calories [38:18]
- The Hazda [1:03:50]
- Fructose & Fruit [1:11:10]
- Fruitarians [1:22:25]
- Not All Carbs are the Same [1:32:30]
- Purines & Uric Acid [1:39:55]
- Carnivore Diet [1:42:22]
- Summarizing Obesity [1:53:56]
- Outro [2:02:46]
Dr Johnson is an incredible resource to have on the show. He is exceptionally well informed, with decades of knowledge behind him. He is also receptive to pushback, navigating potentially contradictory information with evidence-based responses — which is always reassuring from a credibility perspective. I look forward to continuing our conversation in future episodes.
To connect with Dr Richard Johnson, you can find him on Instagram and Twitter. You can also learn more at his website. His latest book, Nature Wants Us To Be Fat, is now available.
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More about Dr Richard Johnson
Dr. Richard Johnson is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and is both a clinician, educator and researcher. He is board certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and kidney disease and is the founding editor of Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology, one of the main textbooks on kidney disease. For more than 20 years, he has led research on the cause of obesity and diabetes, with especial interest in the role of sugar (especially fructose) and uric acid. His research has been highly cited, published in top medical journals, and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. He is the author of The Sugar Fix and The Fat Switch. His latest work contains state-of-the art discoveries on the cause of obesity and potential cures. Currently Dr. Johnson lives in Colorado with his wife, kids, and two rambunctious puppies.