Sugar scientist and UCSF professor of health policy Laura Schmidt questions whether consumers really do have freedom of choice – and what policymakers can learn from corporations in nudging consumers toward healthier behaviors.


Sociologist Laura Schmidt is dedicated to understanding how changing lifestyles are contributing to globally rising rates of chronic disease and what to do about it. Laura bridges the worlds of biomedical research and population health in exploring the growing pressures of globalizing economies, rising inequality and the marketization of products that are undermining our health. A professor at the UCSF School of Medicine, Laura holds a joint appointment in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine. She is the lead investigator on SugarScience, which educates the public about the latest science on sugar. Laura also works directly with decision makers to promote scientifically substantiated social policy reforms.


Separating truth from fiction in the sugar wars
Schmidt L. Al Jazeera America. 2015. 

UCSF Launches Healthy Beverage Initiative
Bole K. UCSF News Center. 2015.

How Big Sugar Steered Research on A ‘Tooth Decay Vaccine’
Aubrey A. NPR, The Salt. 2015.

Sugar Industry Influence on the Scientific Agenda of the National Institute of Dental Research’s 1971 National Caries Program: A Historical Analysis of Internal Documents
Schmidt LA, et al. PLOS Med. 2015;12(3), e1001798.

Website Explores Sugar’s Effects on Health
O’Connor A. New York Times, Food. 2014.

Sugar showdown: Vote on San Francsico soda tax draws near
PBS Newshour. 2014. 

New Food Label Aims to Make Healthy Decisions Easier
Aubrey A. All Things Considered. NPR. 2014. 

New unsweetened truths about sugar
Schmidt LA. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):525-6.

Opinion: Why we should regulate sugar like alcohol
Schmidt L. CNN. 2012. 

Public health: The toxic truth about sugar
Schmidt LA, et al. Nature. 2012;482(7383):27-29. 

Cultivating well being

What color is happiness? What sound does the color blue make? What does the musical note C feel like?

Our well being is impacted more than we realize,  positively and negatively, by many invisible or subtle  factors around us. Our environment is very important to our overall well being. The effect, positive or negative,  of

  • Sound
  • Color
  • Design
  • Aromas

all play a part in our comfort within the spaces we live and work.

Health has expanded to encompass many more non-traditional practices. As we look beyond the physical self to the environment around us, we find there are many elements that influence our well being, such as sights, sounds, aromas and emotions that influence our health. Does baroque music energize us? Do we feel warmer in a green room?

Our  Speakers ask us to explore our relationship with sights, sounds, smells and emotions, and how they move us towards or away from improved health.