#95 Weight Series (Part 2 of 2). The Sugar Episode with Professor Michael Goran & Dr Emily Ventura

31 Mar 2021

SUGAR. It’s everywhere and in everything and in various guises. Fake sugar, artificial, refined, raw, natural, low calorie sweetener and table. Over 200 names for it exist. And if you google sugar and health you could be told it’s as innocuous as water or it’s as dangerous and as addictive as cocaine and worse than alcohol for your liver.

To get to the crux of what’s really going and how dangerous sugar is in our food system (and it’s artificial counterparts) I’m speaking with Professor Michael Goran - Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Dr. Emily Ventura a nutrition educator, public health advocate, writer, and cook with a Masters in Public Health and Doctorate of Philosophy in Preventive Medicine. They’re also co-authors the fantastic book “Sugarproof”  in which they explain the hidden danger that sugar poses to a child’s development and what options there are for parents and carers to mitigate sugar consumption.

Professor Michael Goran has also published over 350 peer-reviewed articles and reviews. He is the Editor of the “Childhood Obesity: Causes, Consequences and Intervention Approaches” published in 2017, co-editor of “Dietary Sugars and Health” published in late 2014, and currently serves as Editor- in-Chief for Pediatric Obesity. 

This is the podcast I’ve been asked to do so many times. So finally we can lift the lid on sugar and its impact. Listen to the end for my top tips and do check out the book Sugarproof on the podcast show notes

On the show today we talk about:

  • Types of sugar and their various forms
  • Why Artificial sweeteners could be just as problematic
  • Why children are uniquely vulnerable to sugar
  • How problems with sugar can be independent of weight
  • Why sugar IS addictive
  • Refined carbohydrates and how they can have similar effects
  • Sugar, Inflammation and the brain
  • The mechanisms of how sugar impacts  the liver, behaviour and mood
  • Policies to protect ourselves in the  future
  • Tips to lessen our sugar burden


We would love to get your feedback on the subject matter of these episodes - please do let me know on our social media pages (Instagram, Facebook & Twitter) what you think,and give us a 5* rating on your podcast player if you enjoyed today’s episode

And don’t forget to subscribe to The Doctor’s Kitchen newsletter for weekly science based recipes and tips to help you live the healthiest and happiest lifestyle possible.


As I mentioned above - this is a subject that Ive been asked to cover time and time again on the podcast - so I was delighted to be joined by Prof Michael and Dr Emily today to talk all things sugar with me.  What a great conversation we had.  Without fail I always learn something new from our amazing guests and this was no exception.
I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did and I would definitely recommend you to check out the Sugarproof book, website and social media pages.

GUEST: Professor Michael Goran and Dr Emily Ventura PhD, MPH

Professor Michael Goran Dr. Goran is Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He is Program Director for Diabetes and Obesity at The Saban Research Institute and he holds the Dr Robert C and Veronica Atkins Endowed Chair in Childhood Obesity and Diabetes. Dr Goran also serves as Co-Director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. Dr Goran is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, UK (1986) prior to postdoctoral training in the US (1987 to 1991). He previously served on the faculty of Medicine at the University of Vermont (1991 to 1994), and the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB (1994 to 1999) prior to joining USC in 1999. Dr Goran’s research has focused on the causes and consequences of childhood obesity for 30 years. His work is focused on understanding the metabolic factors linking obesity to increased disease risk during growth and development and using this information as a basis for developing new clinical, behavioral and community approaches for prevention, treatment and risk reduction. He is also especially interested in ethnic disparities in obesity and obesity related diseases including type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, with a special interest on the effects of dietary sugar on obesity and metabolic diseases among Hispanic populations. His work also covers maternal-infant nutrition and identifying modifiable factors that can be targeted for interrupting the developmental programming of obesity, including bioactive elements of breastmilk and infant microbiome development. His research has been continuously funded by NIH and other Foundations for the past 25 years during which he has raised almost $50m in funding to support this work.   Dr. Goran has published over 350 professional peer-reviewed articles and reviews. He is the Editor of the “Childhood Obesity: Causes, Consequences and Intervention Approaches” published in 2017, co-editor of “Dietary Sugars and Health” published in late 2014, and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Pediatric Obesity. He is the author of “Sugarproof”, a forthcoming title to be published by Avery/Penguin in the fall of 2020. He has been the recipient of a number of scientific awards for his research and teaching, including: The Nutrition Society Medal for Research (1996), The Lilly Award for Scientific Achievement from The Obesity Society (2006), The Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research, from The Obesity Society (2009), the TOPS award for contributions to obesity research from The Obesity Society (2014), and the Rank Prize Lecture in Nutrition (2018). Full details on Dr Goran’s research can be found on his web-site at: www.GoranLab.com   Dr Emily Ventura PhD, MPH Dr. Emily Ventura is a nutrition educator, public health advocate, writer, and cook. A California Bay Area native, Emily completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University where she received a BA in Biology in Society with an additional concentration in Latin American Studies. She worked in public relations in the arenas of environmental protection and food and also as a cook before starting graduate school. She went on to complete her Masters in Public Health and Doctorate of Philosophy in Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. Emily has 10 years of research experience in public health with a focus on dietary strategies for the prevention of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Her research has been published in scientific journals such as Obesity, the Journal of Pediatrics, and the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She has also co-written Op-Eds with Dr. Michael Goran about diet and children’s health which have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post  An advocate for community health, Emily has worked as a nutrition educator for children and families, including interning at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California and teaching and managing programs in the greater Los Angeles area for the California Nutrition Network. An enthusiastic and experienced cook, Emily loves to get kids and their families excited about eating well by encouraging them to source fresh, seasonal ingredients and prepare them simply. She was invited by the Los Angeles Times to conduct Pantry Makeovers for LA residents, in which she helped them restock their pantries and refrigerators and refresh their recipes to make them healthier. Advocating for access to healthy food for all children, Emily has led public health campaigns for Slow Food International as well as the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. Recognition for her work has included receiving the National Cancer Institute’s Trainee of Excellence Award and being selected for the “eHow 100” list of women who are have made innovative shifts in their careers and have had a positive impact in their communities. Emily has spent extensive time abroad, including studying food and culture in Ecuador and serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Italy, where she taught Public Health Nutrition at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and conducted research at the University of Verona. Emily now lives in the UK with her two young sons and works as a writer and recipe-developer.      

with Professor Michael Goran and Dr Emily Ventura PhD, MPH

get started

The Doctor’s Kitchen App

Download our app to get access to all of our recipes, with specific suggestions tailored to your health needs.


Free 7 day meal plan

Sign up to our newsletter and receive a free copy of our breakfast, lunch and dinner plan to kick start your healthy eating.