February 2014 Issue

Future of Trans Fats
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 16 No. 2 P. 4

The FDA’s November 2013 announcement to tentatively revoke the generally recognized as safe status of partially hydrogenated oils and seriously consider banning them from the US food supply was great news for the health care community. These oils are the primary source of trans fats; therefore, dietitians and other health care professionals agree that banning them could greatly improve public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eliminating these oils from the food supply could prevent 10,000 to 20,000 coronary events and 3,000 to 7,000 coronary deaths annually. Wow! For more than a decade, research has been showing that partially hydrogenated oils raise LDL cholesterol, lower HDL cholesterol, and increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

These findings make me wonder why has it taken the FDA so long to act on the mounting evidence and pressure from the health care community to consider an all-out ban on partially hydrogenated oils.

Yes, many food manufacturers have stopped using or reduced their use of these oils since the FDA required trans fat to be listed on nutrition facts panels, but this hasn’t been enough since trans fat consumption even at low levels still is harmful to public health.

The FDA’s deadline for its request for comments from the medical community regarding partially hydrogenated oils has been extended from January 7 to March 8, 2014, in response to numerous pleas for additional time for comments. In light of this, consider adding a discussion about the perils of trans fats as you counsel clients about eating healthfully and exercising regularly to achieve heart health this month. They’ll thank you, and their hearts will thank you, too.

Please enjoy the issue!