Banning Trans Fats Is Not the Answer to Obesity

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March 1, 2007 pieces on the website of the Heartland Institute include an articles on air pollution and soot rules by ACSH Advisor Dr. John Dale Dunn, plus an article by Aricka T. Flowers that quotes ACSH's Dr. Whelan:

"The fact that the city of New York banned trans fats and that it's a consideration in Chicago is unreal," said Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, a consumer-education nonprofit focused on health and lifestyle issues based in Manhattan. "The fact that restaurants can't use a safe, wholesome product to prepare their foods is staggering. We are talking about margarine and cooking oils -- not chemicals.

"As a scientist, I get all these letters saying the media is hyping this up, but I don't think it's the media's fault," Whelan continued. "It's the science community's fault. I've talked to a number of scientists who say they know this is wrong but want to stay out of it."

Whelan said trans fats are no more dangerous than any other calories.

"We need to look at the real causes of heart disease and work with the controllable ones," Whelan said. "Diabetes, high serum cholesterol and bad lipid levels, obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure are controllable causes of heart disease. If you have high cholesterol, you need to be on a statin. Keeping your weight down is another way to handle heart disease.

"The looming obesity problem in our country is very scary, but there is no relation between trans fats and obesity," Whelan continued. "Yet, that has been a major catalyst to this movement against them. The truth is trans fats have nine calories per gram, just like any other fat"...

"What we really have to do is educate people on the number of calories they should consume in a day," Whelan said. "Banning trans fats and labeling menus with calorie content is not going to make a difference if people don't know what to do with the information."

See also: ACSH's full report on Trans Fatty Acids and Heart Disease.