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Chefs whining about trans fat ban


paulraphael
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On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

Right, and there is also a mountain of evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease

Is there really a "mountain" of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease? While there have been a few studies, I wouldn't characterize the evidence as anything near mountainous -- or near conclusive.

Well, what I would say is that the nature of the evidence against trans and saturated fats are qualitatively very similar -- you have short-term metabolic studies of both, which tend to show that sat fat raises LDL, while trans raises LDL and decreases HDL. And you have epidemiological studies --which look at fat consumption in the real world over a length of time and relate it to endpoints like heart attack mortality-- which come to differing conclusions. Some find relationships and some don't. For instance, you probably remember that huge amount of fanfare earlier this year when the results of the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial were published. This was a randomized, controlled trial of low-fat dietary modification, using a huge sample of women (almost 50,000) and a long follow-up time (8 years), universally described by epidemiologists as the "gold standard" of epidemiological studies of diet. The WHI study looked at the impact of the dietary modification on heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer.

In terms of heart disease, the study found (to the shock of many, including me) that the lower-fat diet "had no significant effects on incidence of CHD [coronary heart disease], stroke, or CVD," but did report finding "trends toward greater reductions in CHD risk . . .in those with lower intakes of saturated fat or trans fat," suggesting that total fat intake is not a big predictor is heart disease risk, but that intakes of sat and trans fats specifically might be related to heart disease risk. So, you could interpret this to mean that total fat is not an important predictor of heart disease risk, but that sat and trans fats might be related to heart disease risk, and are sort of in the same boat as "bad" fats, but even in their cases, in one of the largest and best-controlled epidemiologic studies ever conducted, the relationships are relatively weak.

Howard et al, 2006. Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The Women's Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 295:655-666.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Here is the part from Howard et al (2006, p.661) discussing the trends toward reduced CHD in the lowest sat fat and lowest trans fat groups:

Compared with those in the entire comparison group, a trend was observed toward reduction of CHD risk among those in the intervention group who reached the lowest levels of saturated fat (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.69-0.96 in the group that consumed<6.1% energy; P<001 [adjusted HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.67-0.99; P=.05]) and trans fat (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.69-0.95 in group consuming <.1% energy intake;

P<001 [adjusted HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.69-1.02; P=.10]) . . .

What is interesting to note here is that the hazard ratios for the low trans group and the low sat group are almost exactly the same (0.84 and 0.82), so the magnitude of the differences in CHD risk between these groups and the control group are almost exactly the same. The 95% confidence intervals are almost identical as well, at 0.67-0.99 and 0.69-1.02, respectively. Taken at face value, these results say that the group consuming the least amount of sat fat had a 18% reduced risk of CHD, and the group consuming the least amount of trans fat had a 16% reduced risk of CHD, compared to the control group. This certainly wouldn't seem to support the view that reducing trans fats is more important or has a greater impact on CHD risk than reducing sat fat does.

This need not be terribly surpising, even if trans fats are worse than sat fats on a weight-for-weight basis, because we still consume a far greater amount of saturated fat than trans fats, so that a large reduction in sat fat intake could have a greater effect than a large reduction in trans fat intake.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Those are a lot of links to articles I can't access, however some of the abstracts read more like editorials than like studies -- indeed I think they may be editorials, especially the ones by "Willett WC." I also followed some of the sidebar links and found this abstract:
Data supporting a relation between trans fatty acid intake and CHD risk are equivocal compared with extensive data from studies in animals and humans linking saturated fat intake to CHD.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...st_uids=7661131

In terms of an article I can read, the New York Times -- at least in this article -- does not concur with the conclusion that there's a consensus:

The National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the Food and Drug Administration have all come to the same conclusion: Trans fats are on a par with saturated fats, like butter or lard. Both increase cholesterol levels and most people would be better off if they ate less of all of them. Period.

Similarly, the American Heart Association's current position statement on Trans Fatty Acids, Plasma Lipid Levels, and Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Disease states regarding the epidemiological evidence:

Data related to trans fatty acid intake and risk of developing CVD have been inconsistent. Beyond the usual caveats that association does not prove causation, difficulties inherent in estimating trans fatty acid intake, as detailed above, complicate interpretation of data. Data derived from food-frequency questionnaires and weighed records support a relationship between trans fatty acid intake and risk for CVD. More objective measures of transfatty acid intake, independent of reporting bias or data bank information such as plasma or adipose tissue levels, for the most part do not support an association between trans fatty acid intake and risk of CVD. How closely such measures truly reflect long-term food intake have yet to be adequately determined. Data on individual fatty acids suggest an association between risk of CVD and 16:1 trans, which comes to a great extent from animal sources, and not 18:1 trans,which comes to a great extent from hydrogenated fat. These data are opposite to the relationship between source of transfatty acids and disease risk suggested by the food-frequency questionnaire data, making it difficult to draw conclusions at this time.

Approaching the area of transfatty acid intake and CVD risk on the basis of epidemiological data is also difficult because of the potential for other dietary variables to confound the data. Although attempts are made to control for covariants, given the limitations in the information available and the very nature of dietary data, even the best attempts are somewhat limited.

. . .

Data from epidemiological studies supporting a relationship between trans fatty acid or hydrogenated fat intake and risk for CVD are highly variable. Once again, difficulties inherent in estimating intake, especially long-term intake, are complicated, and those in use await validation. Establishing a relationship is further complicated by difficulties in teasing out confounding factors associated with all dietary data

This is the statement that is currently on the American Heart Association website, however it was written in 1997.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Those are a lot of links to articles I can't access, however some of the abstracts read more like editorials than like studies --

Those tend to be abstracts to metastudies, where a researcher compiles and analyses the results of many other studies, trials, etc.

In terms of an article I can read, the New York Times -- at least in this article -- does not concur with the conclusion that there's a consensus:

Well, in the case of popular journalism on the topic, I always look for references and go straight to the source. The Times is head and shoulders above most papers on these things, but I find their journalists get lazy a lot of the time in their interpretations of the studies, or in their ability to find the most current studies. They're simply ten years behind the current state of research if they think trans fats are only on par with saturated fats in their effect on cardiac health.

Similarly, the American Heart Association's current position statement on Trans Fatty Acids, Plasma Lipid Levels, and Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Disease states regarding the epidemiological evidence ...

This is the statement that is currently on the American Heart Association website, however it was written in 1997.

Yes, most of the damning research is from the last five or six years. I wouldn't give weight to a 1997 study without looking at what's come since.

Also, remember that the American Heart Association, like the FDA is a political body, and so it's reports are connected to policy and not just science. You'll have better luck getting to the bottom of things by going straight to the scientific journals. Even if you can only access the abstracts, you'll get more relevent information than you will out of a typical newspaper article.

I only linked to the first handfull of studies that I found. If you want to dig deeper, and even explore some contradictory viewpoints (you'll always find something) I suggest wiling away some time on pub med.

Notes from the underbelly

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Similarly, the American Heart Association's current position statement on Trans Fatty Acids, Plasma Lipid Levels, and Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Disease states regarding the epidemiological evidence ...

This is the statement that is currently on the American Heart Association website, however it was written in 1997.

Yes, most of the damning research is from the last five or six years. I wouldn't give weight to a 1997 study without looking at what's come since.

Um, the 1997 position is not a "study" -- it is a position statement made by leading experts on heart disease, reflecting data available at that time.

Also, remember that the American Heart Association, like the FDA is a political body, and so it's reports are connected to policy and not just science.

Well, no, actually, they're not really like each other. FDA is a government agency created by congress and funded by taxpayers. AHA, on the other hand, is a non-profit, non-government organization whose stated mission is to reduce the mortality and disability from cardiovascular disease.

You'll have better luck getting to the bottom of things by going straight to the scientific journals.

I agree wholeheartedly, and I can't tell you how many thousands of hours (literally) I've spent doing just that. Far too often these discussions about nutrition and food safety are devoid of any discussion or critique of the actual scientific evidence.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I agree wholeheartedly, and I can't tell you how many thousands of hours (literally) I've spent doing just that. Far too often these discussions about nutrition and food safety are devoid of any discussion or critique of the actual scientific evidence.

Trans fats are bad for you as even a cursory look through medline articles will tell you. Exactly how bad is unclear, but the science suggests they are worse than naturally occuring fat.

Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant processes within that organism in favor of the former. In fact, a greater consumption of trans fat has been associated with higher levels of oxidative stress in humans (1-5), and prolonged exposure to high levels of oxidative stress has been implicated in the development or acceleration of several dysfunctions and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (6-11), inflammation (12, 13), type 2 diabetes (14), and breast, colon, and prostate cancers (15, 16).

(Kuhnt et. al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 5, 981-988, November 2006)

So what is good about trans fats? I understand they make food a little cheaper, but how much cheaper?

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I agree wholeheartedly, and I can't tell you how many thousands of hours (literally) I've spent doing just that. Far too often these discussions about nutrition and food safety are devoid of any discussion or critique of the actual scientific evidence.

Trans fats are bad for you as even a cursory look through medline articles will tell you. Exactly how bad is unclear, but the science suggests they are worse than naturally occuring fat.

Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant processes within that organism in favor of the former. In fact, a greater consumption of trans fat has been associated with higher levels of oxidative stress in humans (1-5), and prolonged exposure to high levels of oxidative stress has been implicated in the development or acceleration of several dysfunctions and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (6-11), inflammation (12, 13), type 2 diabetes (14), and breast, colon, and prostate cancers (15, 16).

(Kuhnt et. al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 5, 981-988, November 2006)

So what is good about trans fats? I understand they make food a little cheaper, but how much cheaper?

So banning them is the answer? What will the ban in NYC actually accomplish? How much trans fat is consumed vs. sat fat (pizza, ice cream, candy etc. etc.)? Am I to understand they can be purchased off the shelf easily at the store for human consumption? Is trans fat worse than alcohol, or chocolate, sugar, coffee or beef?

What will the ban accomplish in the overall health of the average citizen or visitor to NY?

Just asking.

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So banning them is the answer? What will the ban in NYC actually accomplish? How much trans fat is consumed vs. sat fat (pizza, ice cream, candy etc. etc.)? Am I to understand they can be purchased off the shelf easily at the store for human consumption? Is trans fat worse than alcohol, or chocolate, sugar, coffee or beef?

What will the ban accomplish in the overall health of the average citizen or visitor to NY?

Just asking.

It is unclear, but if there is no benefit, and clearly a certain level of risk to using trans fats, then why shouldn't they be banned? I think the lead paint analogy is valid.

What are the benefits to trans fats, aside from not having to change the oil in the fryer so frequently?

I would like to at least know whether or not they are present in my meals so I can make an informed decision.

Is trans fat worse than alcohol, or chocolate, sugar, coffee or beef?

Apparently there is no acceptable level of trans fat, so yes. It is more akin to a toxin than a non-nutricious food choice.

How do you feel about Olestra? Would you be comfortable consuming Olestra (another artificial fat) unknowingly?

Edited by R Washburn (log)
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I agree wholeheartedly, and I can't tell you how many thousands of hours (literally) I've spent doing just that. Far too often these discussions about nutrition and food safety are devoid of any discussion or critique of the actual scientific evidence.

Trans fats are bad for you as even a cursory look through medline articles will tell you. Exactly how bad is unclear, but the science suggests they are worse than naturally occuring fat.

Trans fats are about as bad as saturated fats, as even a cursory look at the medline articles, or the research I discuss above (e.g. Howard et al, 2006), will tell you. They may be slightly worse than saturated fat on a weight-for-weight basis, but since trans-fat is a small proportion of our fat consumption compared to saturated fat, perhaps you could explain why it would be appropriate to regulate trans fat content but not saturated fat content of foods. The 2005 USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans, states for example:

Population-based studies of American diets show that intake of saturated fat is more excessive than intake of trans fats and cholesterol. Therefore, it is most important for Americans to decrease their intake of saturated fat. However, intake of all three should be decreased to meet recommendations.

ETA: USDA/HHS statement.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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So what is good about trans fats?  I understand they make food a little cheaper, but how much cheaper?

but if there is no benefit, and clearly a certain level of risk to using trans fats, then why shouldn't they be banned?

Have you read the whole thread before responding? I will assume not, since this question has already been answered above: there have been tests comparing trans-shortening to trans-free shortening which give a slight benefit texture-wise to the trans-version. Cooks Illustrated for instance:

To see how this new product performs, we prepared our pie crust, biscuit, and fried chicken recipes with both the original and the new Crisco. The pie crusts and biscuits made with each type of Crisco browned equally well, as did both batches of fried chicken. In fact, we couldn't tell the difference between the chicken fried in the original and new Crisco. The chicken tasted the same, and the skin was equally crisp.

In the case of the pie crust and biscuits, we could not discern a different taste, but there was a slight difference in texture. The pie crust made with the original product was a bit more tender, while the crust made with the new product was a bit more stiff and crackerlike. Likewise, the biscuits made with the original Crisco were slightly more tender and also a little more fluffy than their Zero Grams Trans Fat counterparts. Because the overall differences were so slight, we would not hesitate to try the new Crisco in any recipe that calls for vegetable shortening.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I would like to at least know whether or not they are present in my meals so I can make an informed decision.  . .

How do you feel about Olestra?  Would you be comfortable consuming Olestra (another artificial fat) unknowingly?

Huh? You are conflating two completely different policies: labelling requirements and outright bans. I wholeheartedly support labelling requirements -- its the ban I have problems with.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Is trans fat worse than alcohol, or chocolate, sugar, coffee or beef?

Apparently there is no acceptable level of trans fat, so yes. It is more akin to a toxin than a non-nutricious food choice.

If you really believe that "there is no acceptable level of trans fat," if trans fats are "toxins" as per your lead paint analogy, then surely you would support, as a next step, a ban on dairy products (including butter) and meat in restaurants as well, or at the very least regulations limiting their use? As I've pointed out several times now, a substantial fraction of our trans fat consumption, about 20-25% according to Allison et al (1999), comes from our consumption of ruminant-derived foods, mostly dairy and beef.

So, please explain: why stop with the trans oils? In your view, trans fats are unsafe at any level, and in fact are toxins analogous to lead paint. You wouldn't let restaurants serve lead paint to its constumers, so why would you abide them serving trans-fatty butter or beef? For instance, we could mandate that butter-flavored, trans-fat free shortenings, with their heart-healthy polyunsaturated oils, be used in place of butter. And that one step would also dramatically reduce the level of saturated fat. Now, you might object that butter is preferable -and I would agree- but once you assert that "there is no acceptable level of trans fat," and that it is a toxin analogous to lead paint, I don't see how you could oppose the butter and beef regulation. To do so would be tantamount to saying that you accept unacceptable levels of trans fat. . .

Allison et al, 1999. Estimated intakes of trans fatty and other fatty acids in the US population. J Am Diet Assoc 99:166-174.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Did you mean to include the word "don't" in that sentence?

Haha, yes, I meant "don't" ... so annoying to say the exact opposite of what you're trying to say. I was talking about the same study that you mentioned, that found low incidence of heart disease among Inuits.

The French seem like an anomaly because most older studies ignored that regional diets high in saturated fat tend to also be high in hydrogenated oils. The French and the Inuits provide interesting models because their diets are high in the saturated fats but not the trans fats.

I'll have to go back and see where my information on China came from. If I'm wrong I apologise for the misinformation.

None of these broad population-based studies is controlled for genetic differences, but fow whatever reasons the researchers don't seem to think this is a major factor.

In general, recent research, focussed on distinguishing between different fatty acids, supports that trans fats are a more potent culprit in CHD.

Here's a metastudy published this year:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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This is a two pronged discussion: 1) are trans-fats bad? 2) should a local city agency have the power to ban a food substance?

While I'm interested in the studies and data regarding trans fats, I think we may be missing the point; which is can a local agency have the power to ban a food substance? What city agency trumps the FDA or Agricultural Dept.? Is this appropriate at a city level? Is it appropriate at any level?

While the lead paint analogy is thought provoking, why ban trans fats and allow cigarettes? Surely cigarettes cause more diseases, more different types of diseases than trans fats? Is this because trans fats don't have lobbyists?

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I was dumbfounded by the lead paint analogy--that's like likening a cap gun to an atomic bomb or something real far out. They are both explosives but...C'mon, whose Mom served lead painted cookies or something??!!!

Thank you, Judith, for focusing this discussion.

I am totally unequivocally opposed to government, city, state or federal banning food. Let's see, how can I put this...

Get the hell out of my pantry. Now! And STAY OUT!

And while I'm on the subject, the use of Crisco neither has the power to embarass nor does it denote laziness in anyway.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia when I was in my early 20's (and then went to pastry school -- go figure). Basically, I naturally produce huge quantities of cholesterol even without any dietary contribution. My doctor at the time sent me to a class led by a dietitian on how to eat with high cholesterol. She brought some prepared snacks with her, which included fat-free Entenmans cookies and Snackwells and other such things that were all LOADED with trans fats and she pointed them out as a good alternative to butter-based baked products. I remember eating one and thinking I would rather have one real butter cookie a year than an unlimited supply of that processed crap. And, with much guilt, I continued to use real butter. And, of course, now the tables have turned and the people who were snide while slathering their morning toast with Promise spread while raising an eyebrow at me for using the evil butter have taken a position closer to that which I assume most people here have never abandoned.

Basically, just about everything I was taught in that class has been negated over the past 15 years. And my guess is that there will be some NEW study in a few years that will demonize some other food product and everyone will panic and then THAT study will be negated and everyone will argue which study was right. I'm not a scientist. I have a liberal arts degree and a pastry certificate on my wall -- so I would never engage in an argument over which study is factual and which was flawed. But I work on Capitol Hill and let me tell you, it ain't Harvard up here, and I'm not going to put my life and health in the hands of these people. I very, very rarely indulge in two of my favorite foods as a Southerner, fried chicken and drop biscuits. And I use Crisco for both. And I really don't want my dinner becoming an argument on Capitol Hill. As a woman and a lesbian, my personal liberties are bantered about enough as political fodder. Leave my fried chicken alone, dammit!

I'm a die-hard Democrat, and I hate quoting Reagan, but he said it best:

"The most terrifying words in the English langauge are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

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The movie "Thank You for Smoking" needs to add a couple new lobbyists...

One for Trans Fat and another for HFCS.

Between PHARMA and AgriIndustry Lobbying, they'll have the entire American public doped up on drugs and chemicals and family farmers out of business faster than you can say New York Trans Fat Ban.

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So banning them is the answer? What will the ban in NYC actually accomplish? How much trans fat is consumed vs. sat fat (pizza, ice cream, candy etc. etc.)? Am I to understand they can be purchased off the shelf easily at the store for human consumption? Is trans fat worse than alcohol, or chocolate, sugar, coffee or beef?

What will the ban accomplish in the overall health of the average citizen or visitor to NY?

Just asking.

It is unclear, but if there is no benefit, and clearly a certain level of risk to using trans fats, then why shouldn't they be banned? I think the lead paint analogy is valid.

What are the benefits to trans fats, aside from not having to change the oil in the fryer so frequently?

I would like to at least know whether or not they are present in my meals so I can make an informed decision.

Is trans fat worse than alcohol, or chocolate, sugar, coffee or beef?

Apparently there is no acceptable level of trans fat, so yes. It is more akin to a toxin than a non-nutricious food choice.

How do you feel about Olestra? Would you be comfortable consuming Olestra (another artificial fat) unknowingly?

I suppose there is an economic argument for trans fats, in that they impart a good taste at a more reasonable price. I feel certain that they don't take away from whatever nutrition is available in whatever food they are prepared with. It is reasonable to be informed that they are present, though.

As far as unknowingly consuming things, we all unknowingly consume bug parts, rodent hairs, feces, etc on a regular basis. I would like to be informed, personally. At least a written warning.

There is also the laborous paperwork and enforcement of the ban that should be addressed. I would rather the food police spend those resources looking for rodent hair and feces and eliminating them from the food supply than trans fats. If I had a choice.

Edited by annecros (log)
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The French seem like an anomaly because most older studies ignored that regional diets high in saturated fat tend to also be high in hydrogenated oils. The French and the Inuits provide interesting models because their diets are high in the saturated fats but not the trans fats. And likewise, the Chinese diet is high in the trans fats but not the saturated fats. The Chinese have a heart disease problem, not the French or the Inuits.

It seems obvious from the above that you did not read my post #25, where I challenged the empirical basis for several of these claims. Since you are now repeating these claims as if they were established facts, I will repeat some of my critiques here.

First, China appears to have a lower rate of heart disease than does France -- exactly the opposite of what you portray. According to the WHO's MONICA program, which monitors coronary event rates in 38 populations in 21 countries, Beijing has the lowest event rate of all the populations studied (81 per 100,000 men per year; 35 per 100,000 women per year). This is actually quite a bit lower than the rate for Tolouse, France, also monitored by the MONICA program.

Tunstall-Pedoe H, et al, 1994. Myocardial infarction and coronary deaths in the World Health Organization MONICA Project. Registration procedures, event rates, and case-fatality rates in 38 populations from 21 countries in four continents. : Circulation 90(1):583-612.

Second, I challenged your claim that the Inuit have a low rate of heart disease. Bjerregaard et al (2003), in their review of mortality statistics of Inuit in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska found that "the mortality from all cardiovascular diseases combined is not lower among the Inuit than in white comparison populations." Furthermore, they report that mortality from stroke is actually higher in the Inuit than in comparison populations. If you have recent, high quality mortality statistic that contradict this, I'd love to see them.

Bjerregaard et al, 2003. Low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit--what is the evidence? Atherosclerosis. 166(2):351-7.

Third, I would appreciate it if you provide scientific data on the relative rates of trans fat consumption in France and China. The argument you are making is crucially dependent on these data, so I would like to see what you evidence you are basing this on. As I pointed out in my discussion of Artaud-Wild et al (1993), which related cholesterol/sat fat intake in 40 countries and showed France as the only country having a much lower corononary mortality than predicted by cholesterol/sat fat intake. If your hypothesis is correct that lower trans fat consumption France explains this anamoly, then France would have to be unique among these 40 countries in terms of trans fat consumption. If you provide the data on relative rates of trans fat consumption, we can test this hypothesis quite easily.

Artaud-Wild et al, 1993. Differences in coronary mortality can be explained by differences in cholesterol and saturated fat intakes in 40 countries but not in France and Finland. A paradox. Circulation 88:2771–9.

In general, recent research, focussed on distinguishing between different fatty acids, supports that trans fats are a more potent culprit in CHD.

Here's a metastudy published this year:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

From the abstract that would appear to be a review article, not a meta-analysis, but let's move on to your larger point. I've already agreed that trans fats may be a more "potent" culprit, on a weight-for-weight basis, than saturated fats. But to repeat myself once more, we consume several times more saturated fat in our diets than we do trans fats, which is why, for intance, the USDA/HHS dietary guidelines I cited earlier state that "intake of saturated fat is more excessive than intake of trans fats and cholesterol," and that "therefore, it is most important for Americans to decrease their intake of saturated fat."

Epidemiological research which distinguishes between the effect of specific fatty acids on heart disease risk tend to show associations of very similar magnitudes between sat and trans fats and heart disease risk, and certainly support the view that saturated fats are as much or more a "more potent culprit in CHD." For instance:

One of the most influential studies on diet and CHD was the work of Keys23 who related the incidence of heart disease in 16 defined populations in seven countries to their intake of fat and cholesterol. The clear association that he found between percent of energy as saturated fat and CHD incidence and mortality has often been quoted as strong evidence that saturated fat increases the risk of CHD. The original investigations have now been complemented by collection and analyses of food composites representing the average intake of each cohort at baseline, so that the relation of CHD incidence and mortality to intake of trans fat and other specific nutrients could be examined.24 Whereas saturated fat intake was strongly correlated to CHD mortality (r=0.88; P < 0.0001), confirming the original results, a similar positive correlation was found between CHD mortality and trans fat intake (r=0.78; P < 0.0001)

Those data are from:

Kromhout et al, 1995. Dietary saturated and trans fatty acids and cholesterol and 25-year mortality from coronary heart disease: The Seven Countries Study. Prev Med 24:308-315.

Note that the "r values," the correlation coefficients, are very similar for both fats, though there is actually a slightly stronger association with sat than with trans (0.88 and 0.78, respectively). To the extent that you are arguing that sat fat intake has no relation to heart disease, the evidence would seem to contradict you. In fact, many of the same studies which are used to estimate the effects of trans fat on heart disease control for saturated fat, and find an association for saturated as well.

.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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This is a two pronged discussion: 1) are trans-fats bad?  2) should a local city agency have the power to ban a food substance?

While I'm interested in the studies and data regarding trans fats, I think we may be missing the point; which is can a local agency have the power to ban a food substance? What city agency trumps the FDA or Agricultural Dept.? Is this appropriate at a city level? Is it appropriate at any level?

While the lead paint analogy is thought provoking, why ban trans fats and allow cigarettes?  Surely cigarettes cause more diseases, more different types of diseases than trans fats? Is this because trans fats don't have lobbyists?

You are getting closer!

The real issue is much more elemental as you astutely note.

Life is very complex for example there are many known carcinogens and poisons that occur naturally in many foods we eat--in many basic fruits and vegetables.

There are genes--heredity.

there is the environment.

Science does not have many of the answers as to why some people are healthy and some are sick and some live a long time and others do not.

Not long ago we were told that butter is bad so we ate margarine now we are told margarine is bad and natural butter is better.

Bran? remember the fiber fad? There are recent studies that show bran has little or no impact on things we were once told that it did.

We feed mice humongeous amounts of substances in completely unnatural environments and when the mice get sick we declare Ah HA! --another substance is regulated or banned.

(incidently and ironically, mice and rats seem to be impervious to just about anything in more natural environments--we can't seem to get rid of them).

I for one, am uncomfortable with government banning anything. I am a bit more comfortable with regulating.

We happen to have taste buds--certain things provide pleasure. Some of these things have consequences.

In our quest for utopia we are moving toward a pleasureless existence.

I believe that we should be informed and make our own decisions.

All these "bans" seem to follow a pattern. We must ban something to save someone else.

Children, animals, stupid people who can't fend for themselves. --it's always about someone or something else--not ourselves!

I prefer we be informed and take care of our own lives and our children and our animals.

Regulations are fine--regulations that actually achieve intended consequences and respect the rights of adults to chose.

No one wants the government in our bedrooms--should they be in our kitchens?

The same arguments used against cigarettes can be used against alcohol.

Against many things we get pleasure from.

Those who think it is fine to ban or regulate out of existence tobacco should be ready to give up liquor, wine and beer.

Fast food? It is not as big a leap from trans fats to a hamburger as you may think!

Amazingly, with all the so called bad things we indulge ourselves with, we are living longer than ever. We have been ingesting trans fats (and worse) for many many years. I thought we were literally killing ourselves with food and pollution--somehow life seems to go on!

So in our attempts to live longer and healthier will we be living better?

:wink:

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And to return to the slippery slope, you could certainly find plenty of nutritionists that would argue that a Hardee's burger with 1400calories and 107g of fat, or plate of alfredo with 100g of fat, or a serving of creme brulee with 50g of fat have "no redeeeming qualities whatsoever." I would disagree with that -- they have, for many people, the redeeming quality of being pleasurable to eat!- but the chef who might want to use a little trans shortening obviously could make the very same argument.

I think the diffference is that the trans fat is invisible. Anyone who spends more a minute a year thinking about it knows that the bowling ball-sized cheeseburger is bad for them. They're simply making a choice to eat it anyway.

But when I eat at a cafe, I have no way of knowing if what I'm eating is made with butter or with trans fat-laden shortening. I have no expectation of either being health food, but evidence points to the trans fat version being a lot worse (I personally think it's likely to taste worse, too, but that's a different conversation).

The other law that was just passed in NYC is about labelling, actually. Fast food restaurants need to have nutritional information posted someplace visible. Most people won't care, but it's a reminder to everyone, and it will make it a bit easier for people to make informed choices.

I realize that trans fats occur in nature. Those trans fats aren't being banned. They also tend to exist in much smaller quantities than in the artificial substitues. I just bought some french butter that lists 1/2 gram trans fats per serving. Not sure what's in a comparable amount of shortening, but I suspect it's significant.

Also, I should add that I don't think this is a cut and dry issue. Matters of policy never are. But I don't think it's an arbitrary decision, either. The city chose to draw a line somewhere, and the distinction implied by that line is one that's well supported scientifically. Whether or not you think it's any of the government's business at all is a different story.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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Basically, just about everything I was taught in that class has been negated over the past 15 years. And my guess is that there will be some NEW study in a few years that will demonize some other food product and everyone will panic and then THAT study will be negated and everyone will argue which study was right.

It's good to keep in mind that scientific knowledge is provisional, but you can take it too far. It's easy to throw up your arms and say "knowledge is always changing, so i don't need any of it!"

In fact, studies weren't negated. Generalizations based on interpretations of old studies were negated. The reason is that the old studies were so vague .. they didn't often enough distinguish between one kind of fat and another, or between the fat that was being studied and others that happened to coexist in the diets of the subjects.

There's still a lot left to be learned ... the exact mechanisms of the link between trans fats and CHD, what other nutrients work with or against this process, other factors that haven't been considered, etc..

But the current state of the research is sophisticated enough that we're unlikely to discover that trans fats actually aren't bad. The evidence that they're worse than other fats is just too thorough and compelling.

Einstein showed that Newton's laws actually needed to be radically revised ... but apples didn't suddenly start falling up.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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And to return to the slippery slope, you could certainly find plenty of nutritionists that would argue that a Hardee's burger with 1400calories and 107g of fat, or plate of alfredo with 100g of fat, or a serving of creme brulee with 50g of fat have "no redeeeming qualities whatsoever." I would disagree with that -- they have, for many people, the redeeming quality of being pleasurable to eat!- but the chef who might want to use a little trans shortening obviously could make the very same argument.

I think the diffference is that the trans fat is invisible. Anyone who spends more a minute a year thinking about it knows that the bowling ball-sized cheeseburger is bad for them. They're simply making a choice to eat it anyway.

And you really think that your position is not astonishingly hypocritical? Wow!

You think that people can and should have the right to eat bowling-ball sized hamburgers with dozens of grams of saturated fat, because they know it has an outrageous amount of saturated fat, but you would deny people the right to consume a gram or two of trans fats in a pie crust, even if they know what's in it? That's remarkable. Its almost like you think that saturated fat eaters have the right to make bad but informed diet decisions, but trans fat eaters don't.

There is a solution to the problem of "invisible ingredients" -- its called labelling. Its not terribly complicated, and is in my view far more defensible than an outright ban.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I realize that trans fats occur in nature. Those trans fats aren't being banned. They also tend to exist in much smaller quantities than in the artificial substitues. I just bought some french butter that lists 1/2 gram trans fats per serving. Not sure what's in a comparable amount of shortening, but I suspect it's significant.

In one serving of Crisco (1 tbsp.), there are 1.5 grams of trans fat.

I am opposed to a ban on any food product. I think we should stop trying to protect us from ourselves. Where we could end up on this "slippery slope" scares me. Forced exercise, anyone? Have to show proof of your lipid levels before you eat a piece of pie?

Plus as Patrick points out, people are still free to eat a Hardee's ThickBurger, fries, and a shake. Banning trans fats isn't going to stop obesity or heart disease. I don't think it will even be a blip in the radar.

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And you really think that your position is not astonishingly hypocritical? Wow!

It's not MY position and it's not hypocritical. I'm not professing a belief that I don't abide by, so I don't see any hypocisy.

Philosophically, I'd agree with you that labelling is preferable solution to banning.

But it's not something I'm going to complain about, because I think we'll all benefit from a trans fat ban. Manufacturers are going to work faster to make trans fat-free substitutes (like Crisco already has with its fully hydrogenated shortening ... it wasn't even hard to do) and so there won't even be much price to pay.

The slippery slope warning is well taken, but it's used as a defense against any and all regulation. I don't really see us teetering on the edge of a regulatory abyss just yet. One city is doing an experiement. Future regulation (or lack of it) will likely be based on how it works out.

Practically speaking, there's one benefit to the ban that hasn't been brought up: kids, who don't pay attention to labels, and who eat an inordinate amount of chips and fried crap no matter what anyone tells them. This is a way to make their junk food habits a little less toxic, and they won't even notice.

Notes from the underbelly

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