30 June 2007

New York: 83% Independent From Trans Fats

I think this unified effort is patriotic enough to be a great and truly healthy gift for the Americans' July 4th celebrations this year:
New York City health officials are beaming about their efforts to get restaurants to stop using oils that contain trans fat, announcing today that as of June 1, 83 percent of the city’s restaurants had eliminated the artery-clogging frying medium.

The real change in the dietary fat landscape came a few years ago, when the Food and Drug Administration declared that no amount of trans fat was healthy and ordered food companies to disclose trans fat amounts on food labels as a way to pressure companies to eliminate it.

It worked. The people who make potato chips, frozen French fries, chicken fingers and other snack foods saw the writing on the wall and began looking for ways to use something other than the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain trans fat. Fast food restaurants felt the pressure, too and they asked companies that process soybeans and seeds into oil for the deep-fat to create suitable versions that didn’t require partial hydrogenation.

[New York Times, 29 June 2007]
For the unitiated, trans fats are the result of hydrogenation, or adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to make them more saturated. Why? Saturated fats have higher melting points, and are therefore less likely to be oxidized. This means it has a longer time getting spoiled.

For businessmen who ran restaurants, that means a strategy to minimize expense and boost profits. That's what they call better business. But it is certainly not a healthy strategy. Eating trans fats frequently increases the risk of having coronary heart disease.

Patriotism entails a degree of selflessness. It means putting responsibility above your own selfish desires. So, when a community of business-minded restaurant owners decide to shift their priorities from achieving nothing but profits to being healthy, I think that is a sign of being patriotic.

Having said that, it makes me somewhat sad for my own place. In Manila, there has been no authoritative action to remove trans fat in any restaurant menu or in any diet available. Is it because the Philippines still enjoys a lower obesity rate than most of its Asian neighbors and need not be alarmed yet? The fact that heart diseases is the top killer in the country should be a cause for alarm, I think.

Removing trans fats in our diet will not make us healthy right away but it is the correct step to make if ever we want to bring down those deaths from heart diseases.
Are we patriotic enough to do that? You tell me.

3 reactions:

Clinical supplies said...

Thank God someone is beginning to realize that we need to get rid of trans fats! Way to go New York!

bayi said...

Good for the New Yorkers! We should follow the example set!

Patrice said...

Couldn't help but comment on this one...New York like California or one of the bigger cities has been health conscious. Sadly, it does not reflect the entirety of the US. It now has a bigger obesity rate than Great Britain.
Even I gained weight when I lived here, but I attribute it not on the food but the lack of exercise. Unlike in the Philippines where I walked all the time, here I have the convenience of driving (which is a necessity as well)hence, not sweating.