Here’s good news: restaurants’ reduced use of trans fat in their menu items the past decade have produced positive health results among American adults.
In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it was found out that there has been a 58% decrease in the fat levels of American adults during the period of 2000 to 2009, the same time when a ban on the use of man-made trans fats has been implemented among restaurants in the U.S.
CDC researchers carried out the recent study to evaluate the effects of the 2003 ban, regulated at the time by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The researchers randomly chose 20- years-old-and-above white American participants who have also taken part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and re-examined their trans-fat acid blood levels prior and after the enactment of the 2003 ban.
Trans fatty acid, also known as trans fat, are produced through a chemical process called hydrogenation of oils. Hydrogenation turns liquid oils into solids to increase the flavor and shelf life of foods and oils that contain them. It is found in some crackers, margarines, cookies and other snack foods, as well as in vegetable shortenings. Deep fried fast food items like french fries have been found to be abundant in trans fat, since vegetable oils that restaurant chefs in elegant chef trousers use for deep frying are often subjected to hydrogenation, hence creating trans fats.
Our bodies do not deal well in processing these fats—trans fatty acids tend to accumulate in the body over time, which leads to a buildup of fatty deposits in our arteries, raising the bad cholesterol level in our system. The substance also has an uncanny way of reducing good cholesterol, which adds to the damage that it does to our bodies. These built-up deposits cause coronary heart disease, as well as contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, infertility and liver dysfunction.
Considering the danger and the risk that the substance brings, the FDA ban was promulgated in 2003 and eventually took effect in 2006, requiring food and dietary supplement manufacturers to list their products’ total amount of trans-fatty acids (TFA) on the “Nutrition Facts” section of the products’ labels. Local and state health departments also mandated restaurant chefs in cool chef trousers and coats to control their usage of TFAs to reduce restaurant consumers’ daily intake of the organic acid. There are even some restaurant chains, like Panera Bread Co. and Uno Chicago Grill, which voluntarily eradicated or greatly lessened their usage of trans fats in their kitchens although they were still not bound by FDA laws.
Now, nine years after the regulation was propagated, the effect can be seen in the health of today’s American grown-up population.
“The results of the CDC research show us that the effort to retrain the use of trans fat is indeed effective, and that these kind of efforts must always remain to be a key public health objective for the country,” said CDC’s director Christopher Portier. “The 58% decline in American adults’ trans fat levels is very significant in lowering the risk of fatal diseases among adults in the country today.”