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What Happens When We JUST DO SOMETHING: Trans Fats are Soon to Be Off the Menu, Thanks to Health Advocates
Public health advocates have spent the last three decades working to get the artery-clogging trans fats commonly used in processed foods in restaurants and some food products off the menu. Finally, the Food and Drug Administration has stepped up to the plate, proposing measures that could completely eliminate trans fats from our diet in the coming years.
We could talk about how great this measure is. How eliminating an unnecessary (not to mention harmful) product from our food is a welcomed move. We could talk about how this new measure can and will cut America’s health care costs as the rate of heart disease has been proven – time and time again – to be related to our consumption of trans fats. The more trans fats we eat in the form of microwaved popcorn, frozen pizzas, packaged pies, frostings and restaurant food, the more heart disease we have. Likewise, the less trans fats, the less heart disease.
We could talk about this, yes, but all that seems like a no-brainer. Of course we are happy that the FDA is taking the needed actions to protect consumers. Each year up to 7,000 deaths from heart disease can be prevented by eliminating trans fats alone and we look forward to the day when less people lose their lives or loved ones to heart disease.
Instead what we want to talk about today is a rather unexpected backlash. On the comment sections of articles detailing the FDA’s moves to eliminate trans fat, there have been an unsettling number of people who have spoken up to say, "Get out of my food," or "don’t tell me what I can and can’t eat."
It’s easy to dismiss these often anonymous comments, but we don’t want to. Like the comments on our Facebook page, there is a ringing sense of truth and urgency to what people are saying in these comments, and we want to address it.
"Get out of my food" – that sounds rather American, doesn’t it?
You can take some of my tax money and I will follow your rules, but stick out of my private life! To some degree, these are the sorts of statements that are country was founded upon.
But it gets more difficult in 2013. Because now the biggest players in your life are not just you and the government. Nope, now it’s you, the government and an entity that’s often even bigger and more powerful than the two of you combined: Big Business.
Sure, you may choose to eat bacon every morning. That’s fine; that decision is on you. But when you pick up dinner at a restaurant or buy a frozen meal that sounds healthy but is laced with trans fats, that decision is on Big Business – not you.
Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, are formed when hydrogen gas is used to turn the liquid oil into a solid. This process is cheap for the manufacturers but does not affect the taste of the food – meaning there are countless other alternatives for all of your favorite restaurant and packaged foods. Trans fats are dangerous to our health as they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Moreover, the Institute of Medicine has even stated that there is no safe level for consumption of trans fats.
When your good cholesterol lowers and your bad cholesterol raises, you are also at risk for heart disease and may need to start taking a statin drug, which may involve other risks. This should not be something that happens to you because you want to buy a pre-packaged food.
Simply put, this is not a question of our rights. It’s a question of Big Business sacrificing our health for their profit margins.
We applaud the FDA.