Monday, October 30, 2006

US debates to ban trans fats

Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. It is found in many other foods besides margarine and shortening, however, including fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. Read more about dangers of trans fats here.

As public debates are being held in the United States to ban trans fats, The City of New York's health department is pushing its 20,000 restaurants and fast food outlets to remove trans-fats from the food they serve.

The push to legally prevent individuals from having a french fry may prevail, given the dire health risks and the health care costs and politics that shape public opinion.

This debate has brought forward two passionate groups of people with opposing interests.

Advocates for the ban present evidence that trans fats clog arteries, cause death and cost billions in tax dollars in medical care each year.

Civil libertarians accuse the other side of promoting a nanny state — that is, an intrusive government that dictates how people may live under the guise of taking care of them.

In a country where both public and private health care have become increasingly expensive, the best choice for most people would have to be, to eat right and avoid clogging up arteries in the first place.

Those fighting for civil liberties needn't hold their breath, they can grab their soft drinks or eat whatever food they want, for they have a right to do so. But they can also make better informed choices when the suppliers of food are required to provide more nutritional information perhaps also alerting the health risks.

1 comment:

Emma said...

Trans fat naturally occurs in some foods, like butter, but are also formed in the processing of some foods where product texture and shelf life are desired. I’ve learned a lot about this subject because I work with the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers. In addition, heart disease runs in my family so I’ve got a personal interest in this subject as well.

Have you looked at a margarine label lately? It’s very hard to find any soft or liquid margarine that contain trans fat, and trans fat levels of stick margarines have been greatly reduced. Using new technologies, margarine manufacturers have met the challenge and eliminated or reduced trans fat in margarine products, making a good product even better. In fact, the margarine industry has led the food industry in removing trans fat content from its products. Soft, liquid and spray margarine products are now in sync with the recommendations included in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPyramid food guidance system. Soft margarine products were elevated in their importance in that they “help meet essential fatty acid needs and also contribute toward Vitamin E needs” according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report.

Another benefit to using margarine is that it contains low levels of saturated fat, and no cholesterol when compared to butter. Saturated fat can raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C or "bad" cholesterol) in the blood, which at elevated levels increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Substituting intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in margarine, for saturated fat decreases LDL-C and the risk of coronary heart disease.

When comparing margarine to butter, many margarine products are the recommended alternative as stated by of the American Heart Association, as well as the Federal government’s National Cholesterol Education Program. And yes, it’s still an economical choice for the consumer. For more information, visit, and