The Health Nazis Brought Us Trans Fats. Now They Taketh Away.

Saturday, December 9, 2006
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I was impressed to see the great headline in the Wall Street Journal today: The Bloomberg Diet: The nanny state reaches into the kitchen. Accordingly, the article notes that Michael Jacobson’s Center for Science in the Public Interest, an activist, consumer advocacy group that has been striving for the trans fat ban in New York, is the same organization that helped to bring us trans fat in the first place. (Emphasis mine.)

Before other cities decide to regulate diets absent a safety issue, they might also consider that some of the same people now pushing for a trans fat ban once recommended the ingredient as a substitute for another health scare: saturated fats. Twenty years ago, Mr. Jacobson’s CSPI launched a public relations blitz against fast food joints for using palm oil to cook fries. The group claimed victory when restaurants started using partially hydrogenated oil instead. In 1988, a CSPI newsletter declared that “the charges against trans fat just don’t hold up. And by extension, hydrogenated oils seem relatively innocent.” Today, Mr. Jacobson is claiming trans fats kill 30,000 people a year. We wonder if he feels guilty.

The American Heart Association opposes the trans fat ban, and why? Because it will likely force the use of oils that are high in saturated fats. And yes, restaurants might have to revert to the use of palm oil, that substance that CSPI launched an attack against two decades ago. The AHA takes the sober view, recommending that restaurants take the time to look for healthy alternatives.

Says Jacobson of his trans fat victory: “If trans-fat labeling in the supermarket was the beginning of the end of trans fat, New York’s move today is the middle of the end of trans fat.”

I’ve long noted the oncoming war on lifestyle, and especially dietary supplements. Anything that serves a purpose for any individual, whether real or imagined, is under attack. What does the CSPI have next on its agenda? They are busy trying to convince the FDA to regulate energy drinks as well as all “functional” foods. The safety hazard being claimed by CSPI lawyers is that the energy drink products are being used some alcohol drinkers as they “mistakenly rely on “energy” drinks to mitigate the effects of alcoholic beverage consumption. Drinkers may experience a placebo effect, and dangerously assume that they can drive a car, or drink even more alcohol without becoming further inebriated.” Thus we must regulate it at the point of manufacture. These advocacy types don’t ever go away; they just multiply. And each time, they replace something bad with something worse.

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