Robert Lustig
Robert Lustig

Speaker: Robert Lustig, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology and Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco; Adjunct Professor of Research, Touro University California

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: Hager Auditorium, Museum of the Rockies
Title: The Hacking of the American Mind

A reception will follow the lobby of the museum.


We all know that we can’t put down our sodas or our cellphones. But what if these cravings were engineered—by design? And what if these desires actually caused damage—not just to ourselves, but to our families, our friends and to our entire society?

Dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter that tells our brains, “This feels good, I want more.” Yet too much dopamine leads to addiction. Serotonin is the contentment neurotransmitter that tells our brains, “This feels good, I have enough.” Yet too little serotonin leads to depression. Ideally, both should be in optimal supply. But too many of our simple pleasures have morphed into something else. A 6.5-ounce soda became a Big Gulp. An afternoon with friends replaced by 1,000 friendings on Facebook.

Robert Lustig asserts that we think we want, what we’re told will bring us happiness, is just a clever marketing scheme to consume more and more. Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Las Vegas, Silicon Valley and Washington DC have gotten inside our heads, exploiting this newly discovered brain physiology and chemistry to confuse and conflate pleasure with happiness. He will describe how our behaviors are increasingly not our own, because our minds have been hacked. Lustig will also describe ways to reclaim our health and our lives, to re-engage in the pursuit of happiness, even in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Watch a video about Dr. Lustig's book, Hacking of the American Mind

About the speaker

Robert Lustig’s career has focused on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system and the pathogenesis of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes. He is one of the leaders of the “anti-sugar” and “real food” movements to improve global health. He connects the science of food to the policy and the politics. He also comments on the role of industry tactics to promote hedonic substances and behaviors and the resulting aftermath of healthcare decline and societal devolution.

He is the author of many academic works and of the popular books “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease,” the “Fat Chance Cookbook,” and “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of our Bodies and Brains.”

Lustig is the chief scientific officer of EatREAL, a non-profit dedicated to reversing childhood obesity and diabetes by impacting the global food supply. He serves on the advisory board of Wellness in Action, a non-profit dedicated to community efforts to mitigate obesity and disease. He also serves as the chief medical officer for Slendine, a company developing products designed to improving metabolic health by mitigating the risks posed by the processed food environment.