Bloomberg "got it right" with soda limits: Dr. Robert Lustig

(CBS News) Famed physician Dr. Robert Lustig, known for his outspoken stance on the detrimental effects of sugar, praised New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his controversial efforts to curtail sugar consumption with a 16-ounce cap on sugary drinks sold throughout the city's restaurants and other eateries.

"Certainly the Bloomberg Big Gulp ban is not going to solve obesity, but you know what? It's a good baby step," Lustig said. "It's going in the right direction. And it can be the slippery slope after that.

"Bottom line, he is the single proponent of public health in our society," he said. "Trans fats, smoking, now sugar, he's got it right and he's doing what he can to make a difference for his population and I applaud him for it."

Lustig, the author of "Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease," blames sugar for America's struggle with being overweight and obese. He said sugar is "way worse than anybody gives it credit for."

Lustig explained, "The point is everyone thinks that sugar is empty calories. Everyone's allowed a certain number of discretionary calories every day, 'why couldn't you use them for sugar?' The answer is you could do that -- that would be OK, but the problem is we do that and then some.

"We're supposed to be consuming six to nine teaspoons of added sugar per day. The American Heart Association set that limit in 2009. Our current consumption in America today average is 22 teaspoons per day. The point is -- what does that glut do to you? What we have determined is it's not about the calories. You could eat those 450 calories as say a steak or as some other foodstuff, and it wouldn't matter. Because it's sugar, it causes all of the diseases downstream called metabolic syndrome."

Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese.

The molecule in sugar -- fructose -- is to blame, according to Lustig. He said, "Fructose is not glucose. Fructose has a unique metabolic signature. It causes damage on its own."

For more with Lustig on sugar and the surprising foods it can be found in -- and how to avoid eating too much sugar -- watch the video in the layer above.