Sugar Highs and Lows: Dietary Sugar, the Brain, & Metabolic Outcomes


Metabolic Effects of Fructose and Added Sugars: Potential role in the Metabolic Syndrome

Richard J. Johnson, MD
University of Colorado, Denver

Dr. Richard J Johnson is and Chief of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University of Colorado. Dr Johnson received his undergraduate degree in Anthropology in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.D. degree in 1979 from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He completed an internal medicine residency and nephrology and infectious diseases fellowships at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Dr. Johnson joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 1986, and in 2000 moved to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas where he was the Chief of Nephrology. In September 2003 he joined the faculty at the University of Florida as the Chief of Nephrology and the J Robert Cade Professor of Medicine. In October 2008 he moved to Denver, Colorado where he is currently Chief of Nephrology. However, he remains an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida and continues with an active collaborative research program. Dr. Johnson is nationally and internationally renowned for his work on mechanisms of renal injury and progression, including in glomerulonephritis, diabetes, and hypertension. Recent studies have focused on the pathogenesis of essential hypertension and the role of subtle renal injury. He has also performed extensive research on the role of uric acid and fructose in the epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and hypertension. He has published over 450 articles, lectured in over 30 countries, and is currently coeditor with John Feehally and Juergen Floege of the very successful clinical textbook, Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. He received the American Society of Nephrology Young Investigator Award in 1994 and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He has also written a lay book, The Sugar Fix (Rodale), which was published in 2008.

Effects of Consuming Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Metabolism in Humans

Kimber Stanhope, PhD
University of California, Davis

From Healthy to Horrible: What the History of Artificial Sweeteners Reveals About Sugar

Carolyn de la Pena, PhD
University of California, Davis

Carolyn de la Peña (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, American Studies, 2001) directs the UC Davis Humanities Institute and is also a Professor of American Studies and co-editor of the new Boom: A Journal of California, emerging from UC Press in February 2011. She chairs the system-wide network of Humanities Center Directors for the UC and co-coordinates (with Charlotte Biltekoff) the Multi-Campus Research Initiative (MRPI) “Studies of Food and the Body,” a group of faculty and graduate students across the social sciences and humanities on five UC campuses who, together, explore the intersection of food and human systems and cultures. She is the author of two books, Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda (2010), The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built The Modern American (2003), one co-edited volume (with Siva Vaidahyanathan), Re-Wiring the Nation: The Place of Technology in American Studies (2007) and roughly twenty articles on the relationship between technology, consumption, and health in the United States. She occasionally blogs with other American Studies writers at

Sugar on the Brain

Kent Berridge, PhD
University of Michigan

Kent Berridge is the James Olds Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship.
His lab's research aims for better answers to fundamental questions such as:

  • How is food pleasure generated in the brain?
  • What are the neural bases of wanting and liking?
  • How do fear and stress relate to desire?

Diet and Hormone Effects on Motivation for Sugar

Dianne Figlewicz Lattemann, PhD
VA Puget Sound Health Care System
University of Washington

Dianne Figlewicz Lattemann is a Research Professor in the Dept of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, with adjunct appointments in Medicine and in Psychology at the University of Washington, and a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, in Seattle, WA. She received a B.S. in Biology and M.S. in Physiology from Loyola University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Endocrinology from the University of California at San Francisco in 1981. Dianne’s career has focused upon the diverse actions of the hormone insulin in the brain, particularly with regard to the regulation of energy homeostasis and limbic function. Her studies in the early 1990s revealed a regulatory role for insulin, on the catecholamine uptake transporters, which serve as targets for drugs of abuse (such as cocaine or amphetamine) and psychotherapeutic agents. This led in turn to a series of behavioral investigations of the action of insulin and other metabolic hormones to regulate ‘food reward’ in experimental models. A second line of research is focused upon the brain dysfunction which leads to the impaired response to recurrent bouts of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), a syndrome and complication of clinical diabetes. Thus, her lab focuses upon the important balance of sugar intake and maintenance of normoglycemia (normal blood sugar). Her group is currently focusing upon the effect of altered background diet composition on the reinforcing or motivational quality of sugar.

Obesity and the Neural Plasticity of Reward Circuitry

Eric Stice, PhD
Oregon Research Institute

Dr. Stice completed a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Arizona State University, a clinical internship at the University of California San Diego, and a postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University in behavioral medicine. He holds positions as Senior Research Scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and at Oregon Research Institute. His program of research has primarily focused on elucidating factors that increase risk for onset of eating disorders and obesity, as well as the development and evaluation of prevention programs for these conditions. To date he has conducted four large prospective risk factor studies and eight randomized prevention trials and over a dozen prevention trials. One dissonance-based eating disorder prevention program that reduces the extent to which adolescent girls and young women pursue the thin-ideal produced a 60% reduction in risk for onset of eating disorders over a 3-year follow-up. A healthy weight control obesity prevention program produced a 55% reduction in risk for obesity onset over a 3-year follow-up. More recently, Dr. Stice has begun using brain-imaging procedures (functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI]) to test whether individuals who show abnormal responsivity of brain reward circuitry to food intake and anticipated intake increase risk for future weight gain and whether these relations are amplified by genes that impact signaling of this reward circuitry.

The New Science of Sugar Addiction

Ashley Geardhardt
Rudd Center for Policy and Obesity
Yale University

Ashley N. Gearhardt, M.S., M.Phil, is a clinical psychology doctoral student at Yale University. She received a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan. Through her research on addiction and her clinical work at the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, she became interested in the possibility that certain foods may be capable of triggering an addictive process. To explore this further, she developed in collaboration with Dr. Kelly Brownell and Dr. William Corbin the Yale Food Addiction Scale to operationalize addictive eating behaviors. The scale is being widely used internationally.
Currently, Ms. Gearhardt is examining cognitive and neural processes associated with symptoms of food addiction.

How to Have a Sweet Ending? Interventions to Reduce Sugar Consumption

Robert H. Lustig, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Robert H. Lustig, M.D. is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lustig is a neuroendocrinologist, with basic and clinical training relative to hypothalamic development, anatomy, and function. Dr. Lustig’s research focuses on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. He is currently investigating the contribution of nutritional, neural, hormonal, and genetic influences in the expression of the current obesity epidemic both in children and adults. Dr. Lustig graduated from MIT in 1976, and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1980. He completed his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1983, and his clinical fellowship at UCSF in 1984. From there, he spent six years as a research associate in neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Lustig is the past Chairman of the Ad hoc Obesity Task Force of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, a current member of the Obesity Task Force of The Endocrine Society, a member of the Steering Committee of the International Endocrine Alliance to Combat Obesity and of the Culinary Institute of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association of the Bay Area. He is the author of many articles, chapters, and reviews on childhood obesity, including the recent volume “Obesity before birth”.