Our View: Trans fats should be banned

By Sheila Moussavi 2007

Adding to the long list of fat topics in American health lately is the controversy over trans fats. Although trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in meats, most of us ingest the industrially-created version that is added to many foods for flavor and to maintain a solid consistency.

Although many would assume otherwise, most fats actually do carry health benefits. Trans fats, however, have none. Not only do they increase the risk of coronary heart disease, but research is being done to determine the impact they have on obesity and diabetes statistics as well. As a result, the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants has been an increasing cause of debate in America. On Dec. 5, New York City became the first in the United States to strictly limit the use of trans fats in public restaurants. Now, cities like Chicago are considering a similar path.

As the debate reaches more cities, Iowans begin to consider the best response. While some argue that the government should have no part in regulating what people eat, those supporting a ban on trans fats counter that restaurants should protect their customers from undeniably dangerous acids. The Hi-Line editors are among those who believe artificial trans fats should be gradually banned in restaurants.

Though we appreciate the argument that limiting ingredients can get out of control once we’ve begun, we also think trans fats are an exceptional case. Unlike other fats and most ingredients, trans fats have absolutely no nutritional value and are incredibly harmful to their consumers. While polyunsaturated fats, for example, help protect against cardiovascular disease, trans fats have no positive compensation for the obvious drawbacks of fat solidifying in your veins. What’s more, banning these harmful acids is not only necessary, but given enough time, it is practical as well.

To impliment a ban would require time for restaurants to make adjustments in their menus. This, however, will be (and is being) taken into consideration. With the New York City ban, for example, the deadline for a complete ban isn’t until July 2008, which would give restaurants time to make necessary changes.
Health concerns considered, a ban on trans fatty acids in restaurants is a necessary policy in America. And given sufficient time, it is a completely plausible goal as well.

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