Blame not all on trans fats

South Bend Tribune

In an announcement recently, the Food and Drug Administration signaled the end for the ingredient that adds flavor, texture and shelf life to processed foods — and affects your health in a way that’s not nearly as appealing.

Described by the FDA as “a threat to public health,” artificial trans fats are the partially hydrogenated oils that can increase the risk of heart disease by raising levels of “bad” cholesterol and lowering “good” cholesterol. They also raise the risk of diabetes.

Most of these artery-clogging additives already were eliminated within the past decade, as companies replaced them with other oils.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association of America says food makers have lowered the amount of trans fats in processed foods by 86 percent since 2003. Wal-Mart says it pressured suppliers to phase trans fats out and that only about 6 percent of the foods on its shelves still contain trans fats.

For those products that still have trans fats, the FDA is giving food companies three years to phase them out.

Which is good news, without question. These are generally regarded as the worst kind of fats for your heart — even worse than saturated fats.

That they have been replaced so easily, and without consumers noticing, strengthens the case against trans fats.

But it also seems that a note of caution is in order. Easy solutions to complicated problems are awfully attractive but seldom actually work.

The serious health issues that have developed as American waistlines have expanded and lifestyles have become more sedentary within the past several decades won’t be eliminated with the banning of trans fats.

It’s too simplistic. Imagine blaming the obesity crisis entirely on fat in the diet — leading to a rush on such innovations as no-fat cookies.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to