The level of trans fats has decreased dramatically in many Americans since the beginning of the century. According to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the level of trans fats decreased by 58% among Caucasian males between 2000 and 2009. The study has been published at the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A number of nutritional groups have enacted campaigns to help reduce the number of trans fats in baked foods over the last 20 years. The new study suggests that those campaigns have been fairly successful.
The use of trans fats became popular in the 1980s, when people discovered that it was much easier to cook foods with oils that contained high levels of trans fats. In turn, brands like Crisco became extremely popular while solid based fats were often taken off of store shelves.
However, in the 1990s, the same health activists that promoted foods that contained trans fats suddenly changed their tunes. A decade of health data showed them that trans fats clogged arteries by increasing cholesterol levels, which led to a number of health complications. In 2003, the FDA created a new requirement that any firm producing foods with trans fats would have to advise its customers on its nutritional labels. This ruling went into effect in 2006.
The FDA’s ruling discouraged many restaurants from selling foods which contained high levels of trans fats. New regulations were put into place and some jurisdictions actually banned restaurants from serving foods with trans fats.
However, most of the efforts to cut out trans fats have taken place in restaurants. Customers still have the opportunity to find plenty of trans fats at grocery stores if they know where to look. Also, there aren’t as many “zero trans fats” products as many people would believe. The FDA allows producers to label their foods as zero trans fat as long as it has fewer than half a gram of trans fat per serving.
[box type="note"]Although the debate continues to wage on, health activists are likely to be encouraged by the fact that the level of trans fats has decreased by more than 50% in the past decade.[/box]