Outlawing Trans Fats and Fast Food


Last week Arnold signed AB 97, the California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law, which outlaws trans fats from restaurant foods by 1/1/10 (with the exception of baked goods, which get a year reprieve to 1/1/11).  This makes California the first state in the nation to enact such a ban and makes use of trans fats a misdemeanor punishable by fines ranging from $25 to $1000 per infraction.

This is not so bad given trans fats, mostly liquid oils made into solid fats like shortening and margarine by partially hydrogenating them, are bad for you!  Consumption of trans fats as we know is linked to heart disease and related ailments.  No doubt this will make it more costly to eat out.  But think of all the savings in medical expenses down the road!  Not to mention, maybe it will create more jobs...for Trans Fat Cops!

McDonalds has stopped using trans fats by switching to Canola Oil blends.  Hot Dog on a Stick uses soy oil. Other fast food chains are doing the same. This is good too!  

But just because they don't use trans fats doesn't mean it is good for you.  A medium size (4 oz) order of McDonalds fries is 380 calories both with and without trans fats, and in fact, the percentage of fat calories has slightly increased, from 45% to 47% of those calories.  So don't be fooled into thinking french fries, corn dogs and onion rings are health food without the trans fats in them.

Speaking of fast food, the Los Angeles City Council just approved a 1 to 2 year moratorium on new fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles, a 32 square mile area with 500,000 residents.  Why?  Because the obesity rate there is 20% higher than the rest of Los Angeles.

Huh?  This seems like overkill.  Banning new fast food restaurants will not solve the obesity problem.  How about education.  You can actually eat a healthy, balanced fast food meal.  Try a burger, salad, fruit/yogurt parfait, apple slices, milk, orange juice, baked potato, etc. and you won't leave McDonald's or Wendy's feeling like your arteries are clogged!

In summary, trans fats are bad, but so are saturated fats and eating too many calories in general.  You have many choices in what you eat, and even fast food joints provide many healthy foods these days.  So watch what you eat, eat in moderation, pig out occasionally if you'd like and exercise regularly!  You should be just fine.