December 11

Where more regulation can lead


A chilling quote from John Banzhof, Professor at the George Washington University Law School as reported in the Wall Street Journal:

Fat is the next tobacco…there’s lots of liability to go around.

Notice that he didn’t say ‘trans fat;’ he said ‘fat.’

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  1. The article says, “Most trans fats are synthetic, but as much as 20% of trans fats consumed in an average diet are naturally occurring in beef and dairy products.”
    That’s news to me. I thought all trans-fats were synthetic.
    Hi David–
    All natural fats converted to trans fats by the partial hydrogenation process could I suppose could be called ‘synthetic.’  These fats, in my opinion, represent much more than 80% of trans fats consumed in the American diet.
    There are naturally occurring trans fats in animals and in ourselves.  Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is has been shown to promote weight loss, decrease inflammation, and inhibit cancer formation (at least in lab animals), is a trans fat found in meat and dairy.  In fact, meat and milk from grass-fad animals contains much more CLA than that from lot- or corn-fed animals.  But, it doesn’t occur anywhere in the 20% range.
    We even make our own trans fat.  The first step in the burning of saturated fat in our bodies (called beta-oxidation) involves converting the saturated fat into a trans fat.

  2. One of my issues with the use of the term ‘trans fats’ is that it is a family of compounds which as you indicated are of varying properties.
    Hi Mark–
    It is an issue.  But I think most people referring to trans fats are referring to the partially hydrogenated ones, not the natural ones.

  3. And aren’t the artificial trans-fats of a different conformation, biochemically, than the naturally occurring trans-fats? I believe I remember that correctly from Dr. Enig’s book.
    Hi Cathy–
    Trans simply means that the hydrogens are on opposite sides of the double bond whereas they are on the same side in the cis conformation.  When this is accomplished via partial hydrogenation a fat is produced that has no counterpart in nature.  Natural trans fats are made in the body in fairly small amounts as part of the fat oxidization process and are burned for fuel.

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