We just took a step forward towards our health and our weight management improvement. Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed measures toward the elimination of trans fats from the food supply. This is the culmination of a long fight by public health advocates to get the government to take action against trans fats.
The FDA has finally recognized that partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fats, are no longer “generally recognized as safe”. When finally approved, companies would need approval to use trans fats and therefore would have to prove that the oils they are using are safe to eat.
Right now the ruling is preliminary and open for public comment for 60 days. A lot can happen during that time that can change the outcome of yesterday’s first step to a healthier society. But the recognition of a need to step in is a major first step.
Although some companies have been working towards eliminating and reducing trans fats over the last few years, others have just stayed in the limit to trick us. Up to now some companies used the limit of 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to avoid listing Trans fats in the nutrition facts label, even when hydrogenated oils were being listed as an ingredient. That was a tricky strategy to fool the informed consumer trying to avoid trans fats. As a result, we were eating more trans fats that what we thought, not even counting the trans fats we eat when there is no label to check: fried food, frostings, cakes, cookies…
The main reason behind a potential ban of trans fats is the negative health effect (especially heart diseases) as a consequence of rising “bad” cholesterol and lowering “good” cholesterol. There are many other health effects some closely related to weight management that I just covered a bit more in my last post about trans fats.
Some experts are concerned that the companies will substitute trans fats for saturated fats, which also have negative health effects if consumed in excess. To me, even if that happens, eliminating the trans fats from our diets will be a huge accomplishment. We will have deal with limiting saturated fats later if necessary.
Again, and following my position towards weight management and my personal point of view, it is all about education. If we all knew better about trans fats and saturated fats we wouldn’t need the FDA to ban them, and by not consuming products rich in these fats we would be pushing the food industry to manufacture healthier products. The reason why some major corporations like McDonald’s have substituted hydrogenated oils to fry their products is a consequence of the demand of part of the society looking for a healthy diet. McDonald’s didn’t want to lose all those clients, which were increasing over the years!
It is a big step forward, and hopefully the first one of many more to come in the future.
Or The New York Times on http://www.nytimes.com/pages/health/index.html