Ban WagonóTrans Fat Edition

First New York; now Philadelphia:

Mayor John Street signed a ban Thursday on the use of trans fats in restaurants and food establishments throughout Philadelphia. … The bill Street signed calls for a total elimination of all trans fat from restaurants by September and in bakeries a year later. … Health officials and doctors say trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by increasing bad cholesterol.

Yet will the fats that replace trans fats be any better? ACSH addresses this in the course of naming “Trans fatty acids cause obesity and heart disease” the top unfounded health scare of 2006:

Some scientists and activists now speak of TFAs as though they were acutely poisonous, or supremely dangerous. And they speak as though TFAs are uniquely responsible for heart disease being the number one cause of death in the United States … The topic of TFAs is a difficult one for media to present accurately as these ingredients are certainly not beneficial to health, but are not as supremely dangerous as some would have us believe. Exaggeration of the negative health effects is not conducive to a reasonable approach to diet … [T]he consumption of trans fats by Americans is low and likely to become even smaller since the FDA ruled that packaged foods must list the TFA content on their nutrition labels. Manufacturers have responded by limiting the amounts of TFAs in their products. Thus the risk to heart health from TFAs is likely to decreaseââ?¬â??but we do not know that the fats that will replace TFAs (quite possibly some form of saturated fats) will be any less detrimentalââ?¬â??and this is the problem with overzealous rules to ban TFAs outright. Further, since TFAs contain the same number of calories per gram, as do all other fats, their removal will not necessarily result in lower calorie consumptionââ?¬â??which is what is needed to deal with the soaring prevalence of obesity in the United States.

ACSH’s complete Top 10 list here. And here’s a look at part of California legislators’ to-do list:

Ban parents from spanking their toddlers. Force restaurants to disclose calories on menus. Forbid school cafeterias from cooking with trans fats. Prohibit smoking on state beaches. Make homeowners switch to energy-efficient light bulbs.

And whatever happened to the bill that would bar Californians from gunning down animals over the internet?

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.