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We’ve received a number of emails about the proposed ban on trans fats in restaurants by the New York City Health Department, and the possibility that other cities could follow suit.

One MNB user wrote:

I personally feel that the Trans Fat ban is good public policy. We all know it’s easier to eat healthier if we prepare it ourselves at home but people are eating more meals out and on the go than ever before which is why I see this as good policy. Now, I can see establishments substituting lots more butter but at least we all know where butter comes from and if it’s organic all the better. They say the French eat a higher fat diet than Americans but I’m guessing the difference is the kind of fat. Restaurants are serving fresh foods so the transition should be minimal but in the CPG world where shelf life is king it could get very dicey. Maybe the good ole days of locally grown food, locally raised beef, locally baked bread are returning in the name of health. I predict it will turn the consolidated conglomerated companies upside down in the long run.

MNB user Matt Weeks weighed in:

Remember when restaurants put a little red heart next to dishes that were "heart healthy?" The trend did not last, and I can't figure out why. Perhaps it was too much trouble for chefs to make a "heart healthy" meal really taste great and look great in its presentation. A loss for us all. When I read your story about trans fat, I had a fleeting thought that it might be a great idea instead of an overall ban, for the dishes to display a "contains Trans fat" or "Trans fat-free." But I wonder if the American consumer would act on such information.

When I roll by the Oreo aisle the "no trans fat" starburst on the package is important, but probably more impactful would be "eat this small sleeve of cookies.... and you'll only have to burn-off an extra 1800 calories---" Still I wonder if that would prevent the white wine & Oreos binges of so many Americans. OK - so I only know one person who combined white wine and Oreos. Perhaps she should have used Pinot.

At any rate, I hope we find a workable compromise with our restaurants. I go to restaurants that support local (mostly organic) farms, and change their menu to accommodate what's fresh. But I want permission to eat a hot dog at Pink's in Los Angeles, (or at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco), or to order a non-organic dish, or, just once in a while, eat something like deep-fried ice cream, even though it is decidedly not heart-healthy. When Hamburger Mary's closed in San Francisco, we thought that it was the validation of a real health trend, but alas we were wrong. Just bad management choices, and a skyrocketing real estate market.

Moderation is what we appear to lack in these great United States. Perhaps a paternalistic, strong hand of guidance is required in order to instill more sensible habits. But that is clearly not consistent with our notion of freedom and choice. So my recommendation goes to the other side of the balance sheet of America's health--- the cost of the healthcare system.

We might enlist the healthcare providers (or maybe just one smart one) in offering discounts for good health, and penalties for poor health, and allow the "invisible hand of the market" take a crack at this issue. I'm talking about the obvious things that we can control, like smoking, weight, etc. It has not worked for smoking, but that has another more evil component- addiction. So I say let's give it a try, even with an imperfect yardstick.

Would you "moderate" your lifestyle for, say, an incremental $300 to $1200 per year in cash rebates, provided you pass your health exam in the top "healthy" category? Makes one think.


Another MNB user chimed in:

It is ignorant to think that banning trans fat will help decrease obesity, overeating is overeating regardless of what kind of fat you are consuming. The obesity problem in American does not have much to do with trans fat as much as it has to do with people not getting the same amount of exercise that they may have in the past but still consuming or over consuming calories.

We commented last week that the idea of a trans fat ban "is a problem for those of us who are conflicted – we think, for example, that banning trans fats is a smart public health move, but wonder at what point adults are going to be stopped from making adult decisions."

To which MNB user Elizabeth Archerd responded:

Adult decisions? Who wakes up in the morning thinking about boiling hydrogen through industrial-pressed seed oil that has a bar of nickel in it, in order to make breakfast? But fry your eggs or pancakes in shortening or margarine and that is what you are using. Trans fats were a food chemistry invention. They solve certain problems for the commercial industry, period.

Using this product was a food industry decision. It stretches credulity to pretend that this is on the same level as choosing to consume butter or cheese, real foods, or drink alcohol or even smoke. People who reach for snacks should at least have the confidence that everything in the product is actually usable by the human body or else goes through harmlessly.




MNB user David Mace had the following comment about our continuing coverage of both Wal-Mart and Tesco…

My view is that middle-of-the-road retailers need to stand up and take notice of Tesco AND Wal-Mart. When Tesco hits the US with convenient, gourmet grocery items and Wal-Mart ‘ups’ its fresh product and service standards just enough to leverage its low-cost leader position more effectively, the hemorrhaging at flat-footed Kroger and Supervalu, and others, will begin in earnest.




We had a few stories that referenced animal testing last week, one of which – for example – noted that while a study showed that coffee may help fight Alzheimer’s disease, the tests were done on mice and it took a tremendous amount of coffee. To which one MNB user responded:

Once again proving that testing on animals is pointless and a waste of money, but I'm biased.



Finally, we had a story last Friday noting that while earlier stories mentioned that both coffee and pomegranate juice may help fight Alzheimer’s, there also is a new study saying that marijuana may be helpful, as well.

We got several emails asking how this could be possible, since health experts long have said that marijuana kills off brain cells. One MNB user wrote:

In response to the article relating marijuana usage as a preventative Alzheimer's measure, have we not been told that it kills brain cells over time if used continuously?? Am I the only who views those findings as a little contradictory? Of anything, if they start conducting tests in NYC, at least the case of the "munchies" will include healthful options with the no trans fat legislation instead of the Cheetos, Funions and any other greasy trans fat laden snack.

But one MNB user had the answer, we think:

You might still be forgetful... but with a warm, glowing smile.

Plus: Pink Floyd never sounded so good!


We think that an old age spent listening to Pink Floyd can’t be all bad.

KC's View: