Study: Americans divided on FDA decision to ban trans fats

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14 2013 10:44 a.m. MST

According to a new study conducted by Pew Research Center, Americans are divided on the Food and Drug Administrations plan to require the food industry to gradually stop using trans fats.

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When it comes to what is used in their food, Americans are divided.

The Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal last week that would require the food industry to gradually phase out using all trans fats. According to the Associated Press, the motive behind the proposal was consumer health, and the change could prevent "20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year."

Pew Research Center recently released a survey about the ban where they asked 996 adults if they were in favor of or opposed to "prohibiting restaurants from using trans fats in foods."

Although the FDA's proposal is more widely encompassing than the survey question, the survey showed a strong divide. Forty-four percent of those surveyed were in favor of banning the use of trans fats in restaurants, while 52 percent were opposed to the ban, as reported by Pew Research Center.

According to the Associated Press, trans fats "are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid. They can contribute to heart disease and are considered even less healthy than saturated fats, which also cause heart problems."

Of those surveyed, Republicans were more likely to oppose the ban with 60 percent opposed and 35 percent in favor. Democrats were more divided on the issue; 51 percent favored the ban and 45 percent were opposed.

The difference of opinion was more profound between men and women. Half of the women surveyed were in favor of banning trans fats in restaurants. Only 37 percent of men agreed, Pew Research Center reported.

The Associated Press reported last week that many restaurants around the country have already phased trans fats from their menus, due to the new nutrition labels the association introduced in 2006 and from local laws that prohibit the ingredient.

In a press release, the FDA reported since the introduction of the new nutritional information, Americans have reduced their consumption of trans fats from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to 1 grams per day in 2012.

"One of the FDA’s core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe," Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in the press release. "Food manufacturers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods in recent years, but a substantial number of products still contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are the major source of trans fat in processed food."

Email: crenouard@deseretnews.com

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