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Colorado House Considers Schoolwide Trans Fats Ban

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No Trans FatsThe Colorado House is considering a school trans fats ban, which has already been approved by the state Senate and, on Monday, by a House committee (in an 8-5 vote).

As Kristen Wyatt reports in an Associated Press article on “The ban started as the nation’s toughest — including even after-school bake sales and concession-stand treats — but it has been weakened to preserve fundraisers such as cookie sales and to give schools more time to comply.”

According to Ilya Rahkovsky, Diet, Safety, and Health Economics Branch, Economic Research Service (ERS), in a May 1 post on USDA blog:

In recent years, the public health community has agreed that consumers ought to eat as little trans fats as possible because consuming them increases a person’s risk of heart disease. That message has been repeatedly conveyed to consumers from many different sources: USDA, other Federal agencies, the New York City Board of Health, nutrition professionals, consumer advocacy groups, and the media. […]

For many years, food manufacturers had strong financial incentives to use trans fats in their products. Trans fats are formed when plant-based fats are hydrogenated. This process raises the melting point of plant-based fats, allowing them to be used in products such as margarines, snack foods, and baked goods in place of animal-based fats, like butter. The partially hydrogenated fats prolong shelf life, and they are cheaper than animal-based fats.

Rahkovsky writes that he and his ERS colleagues looked at the trans fat content of new and reformulated products introduced from 2005 to 2010 and found that many companies changed their products by reducing or eliminating trans fats. ERS found that the five product categories with the highest trans fat contents were: bakery products, prepared meals, desserts, snacks; and the category of processed fish, meat, and egg products.

Although Colorado has the lowest obesity rate of all U.S. states, the 2012 KidsCount report by the Colorado Children’s Campaign said one in four of its children are overweight, writes Joe Hanel in The Durango Herald. Wikipedia notes that studies have linked trans fats to many health problems in addition to cardiovascular disease, among them: Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes type II, liver dysfunction, and depression.

A website called, which has been lobbying for bans since 2003, writes:

When we started this website in April 2003, trans fats were not even on the national radar screen. It was easy to maintain a trans fat website in those days, because so little was happening.

Since that time, our campaign has resulted in tremendous success. Trans fat content in the national food supply has diminished dramatically. There is so much news about trans fat that it is impossible to track it.

According to Wikipedia, Tiburon, California, became the first trans-fat-free city in 2005 (with an all-voluntary ban by restaurants). New York City then banned trans fats in restaurants. That was followed by Philadelphia instituting a partial ban. And in 2008, the California legislature passed a statewide partial ban on trans fat, signed by the Governor. Wikipedia writes that trans fats are banned in Switzerland, and in Denmark, where “It is hypothesized that the Danish government’s efforts to decrease trans fat intake from 6g to 1g per day over 20 years is related to a 50% decrease in deaths from ischemic heart disease.”

Image by Mykl Roventine, used under its Creative Commons license.


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