December 6

Trans fat content of foods

12  comments

Business Week Online has a nifty slide presentation showing the trans fat contents of what it calls the Top 10 Trans Fat Foods.*
The slides are great but I have a quibble with their (actually the government’s) stats on daily trans fat consumption.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adult Americans on average consume about 5.8 grams of trans fats or 2.6% of calories, per day. And medical research shows that the daily intake of about 5 grams of trans fat is associated with a 25% increase in the risk of heart disease.

In looking at the trans fat content of any of the foods in the slide show, it’s pretty easy to see that downing even one of their selections would involve consuming more than the ‘average’ of 5.8 grams per day. For example, one order of medium french fries provides one with 8 grams of trans fat. God only knows how much is in a Supersized order.
A donut contains 5 grams. How many donut eaters stop at one?
I’ve always thought the statistics showing the average daily consumption of trans fats being in the 5-6 range were way too low. Just look at the foods in this slide show, think about how many of them the ‘average’ person eats in a day, and draw your own conclusions.
*The first item in the slide show isn’t identified. I haven’t a clue as to what it is. Can anyone help?


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  1. The first one would be a “poutine” I think, basically french fries with gravy and cheese. Lots of fat.
    That was a comment on the Business Week site. Must be a regional dish with several names. I’d never heard of it or seen it myself.

  2. Long before I low-carbed, I had poutines in Canada – hate to admit, but it was good…then again, it was when fries were still fried in beef tallow, the cheese was made with whole milk and the gravy wasn’t something made from powder, but meat drippings! Imagine the fat in that! Yum!

  3. The first item in the slide show is the French Canadian dish called “poutine”. Poutine is French fries and gravy topped with cheese curds. Very popular up here…

  4. Maybe the averages are more like the numbers for other addictive substances. With alcohol, isn’t it something like, 50% of the alcoholic drinks are consumed by the 5% who have a problem?
    Some of us have massive amounts and a whole bunch of others, not so much.
    Hi Connie–
    Even with some not eating any at all, given the number of people who eat this kind of stuff most of the time, I can’t imagine that the average intake isn’t greater than that listed in the article.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  5. Maybe trans fat consumption is so low because people only take one bite & leave the rest,(LOL) otherwise it is very difficult to see how anyone could consume such small amounts of trans fats even on average! most people would consume around 30 to 100gms of trans fats daily without even trying, especially anyone eating deep fried or prepackaged anything 3 times a day. I would imagine this table is to show that trans fats are not all that widely consumed so that any bans on them are un-necessary? I wonder?
    Hi Helen–
    I suspect that realistically the average would be somewhere between 20-40 grams per day, which is a lot.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  6. Mary Enig wrote back in ’98;
    “The industry continues to argue that American trans consumption is a low six to eight grams per person per day, not enough to contribute to today’s epidemic of chronic disease. Total per capita consumption of margarine and shortening hovers around 40 grams per person per day. If these products contain 30% trans (many shortenings contain more) then average consumption is about 12 grams per person per day. In reality, consumption figures can be dramatically higher for some individuals. A 1989 Washington Post article documented the diet of a teenage girl who ate 12 donuts and 24 cookies over a three day period. Total trans worked out to at least 30 grams per day, and possibly much more. The fat in the chips that teenagers consume in abundance may contain up to 48% trans which translates into 45.6 grams of trans fat in a small ten-ounce bag of snack chips—which a hungry teenager can gobble up in a few minutes”
    Hi George–
    Thanks for the update.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  7. As a “French Canadian” (we call us Quebecers!), I had to laught when I saw the unidentified food!
    Fortunately, as a picky eater, I never ate it, which is quite a rare phenomenon here. I used to prefer potato chips and those other craps… Where are all these trans fats now? I hope they’re gone over the hills and far away.
    Hi Max–
    I’ve been to Canada a lot, and I’ve never eaten it either.  In fact, I never saw it and had no idea what it was until a bunch of readers wrote in identifying it for me.
    I, too, hope that trans fats vanish from our food scene.
    Cheers–
    MRE

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