Trans Fat: They’ve Mostly Taken A Hike, But Consumers Still Need to Read Food Labels

The trans fatty acids (trans fats) were supposed to take a hike. Turns out that’s not totally true.

You see, we just learned, thanks to researchers at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis reporting in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the nasty substance still lurks in some foods.

The good news is that researchers, who examined a sampling of processed snack foods, cookies, butter, and margarines sold at retail giant Wal-Mart in Minneapolis-St. Paul, found that most of them are now free of trans fats, which have been known to raise "bad" LDL cholesterol, which puts you at risk for coronary heart disease, and lowers heart-protective HDL cholesterol.

The bad news is that you can still find the stuff. That’s why the University of Minnesota researchers say something to the effect of "Buyer, beware."

They write that "consumers need to read product labels because the trans-fat content of individual products can vary considerably." (Foods lower in trans and saturated fat also "tend to cost more, which may be a barrier to their purchase for price-conscious consumers," they observe.)

Whenever I read about trans fats, I always wonder:

  • Why are people eating so much processed food in the first place?
  • Why is everyone focusing on trans fats and not dwelling enough on the perils of sugar? Because even if — as the packages tell us — they don’t have trans fats — they’re still full of sugar and culprit carbs. (Which means, of course, that if you eat too many of them, which most Americans do, you could still go into SUGAR SHOCK!, as my book of the same name reveals.)

Actually, a co-researcher on this study had some fabulous advice: Of course, snack lovers could also pass over processed treats for a more wholesome option, like fruits and vegetables, Lisa J. Harnack, Dr.Ph., R.D. an associate professor at the University of Minnesota and a co-researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.


Junk Food Manufacturers Unhappy About U.K.’s New Rules on TV Advertising of Unhealthy Foods to Kids

Over in the U.K., food companies that make sugary, less-than-healthy snacks and beverages are predictably unhappy about the idea that their ads won’t be shown on television before 9 p.m. as part of phase two of the new British rules that restrict advertising unhealthy foods to children, reports.

What intrigues me is how Great Britain even went so far as to restrict foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Clearly, our British brethen are way ahead of us Americans in limiting junk-food ads that children will see.

Sugar: The High Cost Many Pay So You Can Consume the Sweet Stuff

PriceofsugaraNote from Connie: Thanks to a new documentary, "The Price of Sugar," Americans will now have a chance to get the real scoop about their beloved, but destructive sweetener.

This film gives people a shocking, horrifying, inside look at the many hardships workers endure just so the sweet white powder makes it to our supermarket shelves. For a sneak preview, watch the trailer now. SUGAR SHOCK! Blog researcher/writer Jennifer tells us about this eye-opening film, which I’m hoping to catch very soon.

People already have a chance to learn about sugar’s many health dangers by reading Connie and Dr. Sinatra’s book, SUGAR SHOCK!

Now Americans need to learn the sour truth about sugar-growing and gathering, because if they did, I believe that they’d be a lot less likely to buy this sweetener.

Now, thanks to the new documentary "The Price of Sugar" — which has been reviewed by New York Times and a number of other publications — people are discovering the harrowing conditions workers endure just to gather sugar cane.

The film — which is directed by filmmaker Bill Haney and narrated by Oscar-winning acting legend Paul Newman — teaches us, for example, that Haitian workers are basically forced into indentured servitude in the sugar cane fields in neighboring Dominican Republic.

These Haitian workers are snatched from their homes, herded into barracks and forced to do the back-breaking work of harvesting sugar cane 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for less than $1 a day.


Work Makes Hard Work of Healthy Living, Survey Finds

Note from Connie: Ah yes, it’s a challenge most of us often face — we know we need to get out from behind our desks and get moving, and better yet, eat healthy foods. But how the heck do we do all of that while at work? Karen James brings us news about a survey, which brings us some dismal news.

Our workplaces aren’t the most conducive to healthy living, a national telephone survey has found.

Granted, the survey was conducted on behalf of Nationwide Better Health, a company that makes its money by bringing work-site screenings, medical and maternity management, lifestyle health coaching and other programs designed to increase employee productivity into the workplace.

Still, considering how much time the average person spends at work, the results, which I learned about from Business Wire, gave me pause to stop and think.


Attachments: Rise Up With Me & Stop Sending Them Unless Absolutely Necessary

Unless absolutely necessary, I absolutely detest, despise and loathe attachments when I’m trying to get things done quickly (which is all the time).

You see, I’m the absolute opposite of a geek. I’m a techno dummy. I really do appreciate my new high-powered HP computer, because I can rapidly write down my thoughts (90 wpm, I think).

But that’s where our love affair ends. I don’t know how to use my computer as well as I should, especially when it comes to new programs (especially the updated ones on my spanking new computer).

Anyhow, my repugnance for these annoying, tough-to-download, computer-crashing attachments just seemed to have the opposite effect — more of them arrive.

Take, for instance, the responses to my recent ad for a sharp, savvy, sweet research assistant. Now, I specifically posted my ad on a website designed to draw graduates of the master’s degree program at the Columbia University School of Journalism. Just my kind of worker.


High Fructose Corn Syrup-Sweetened Sodas Contain Compounds that May Raise Risk of Diabetes

Note from Connie: It seems like every couple of months (at least) we keep learning about more alarming news and new research studies relating to the potential dangers of the ubiquitous sweetener high fructose corn syrup. Now Jennifer Moore updates us about a study from Rutgers University.

Rutgers University food scientist Chi-Tang Ho, Ph.D. took eleven popular sodas sweetened with HFCS to a lab, and found that they all contain "astonishingly high" levels of compounds called reactive carbonyls. He presented his findings at the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society.

What’s so bad about these reactive carbonyls? They are often found in the blood of diabetics and may cause cell and tissue damage linked to the disease, according to Health Day.

Interestingly, Ho says that table sugar doesn’t contain reactive carbonyls (though there are plenty of other reasons to avoid it, too, as Connie amply demonstrates in her book SUGAR SHOCK!). Big Soda uses HFCS instead of sugar because it’s sweeter and cheaper.

Soda isn’t the only drink that concerns Ho.

"I worry about kids in high school," Ho told Health Day.

"They rely on energy drinks to do their homework and stay awake. The level of [HFCS] is so high."


Water: Refreshing, Right? What’s the Urgent Need for Vitamin-Spiked Sugar Water, Even if It’s Promoted by 50 Cent?

Sure, $400 million is a mighty tempting figure, but shouldn’t principles and sending the right messages — i.e., encouraging fans to drink healthy beverages — be foremost on a rap star’s mind in guiding him to monetary decisions?

So did rapper 50 cent make the right choice by signing a lucrative deal to promote the highly successful sugary, Vitamin Water to adoring fans and others?

What do you think?

Incidentally, Vitamin Water is now in bed with Coke. The beverage giant Coca Cola purchased Glaceau, creator of the popular Vitamin

TV Ads Promote Foods High in Sugar, Fat & Salt, Study Finds

Our nation’s children are sitting ducks. They’re being bombarded with food ads high in sugar, fat and salt, a new study found, a sad development we learned about from AFP.

Of course, we already knew about this appalling advertising phenomenom, but this new long-term study from University of Chicago researchers — which was published in Pediatrics — examined nearly 100,000 thirty-second ads for foods (including breakfast cereals, snacks, sweets and drinks) aired on TV during programs popular with two-to 17-year-olds.

Their findings: A whopping 97.8 percent of the food product ads kids aged two to 11 were high in fat, sugar and sodium or

And for the older 12-to-17-year-old age group, 90 percent of ads targeting them were for foods of poor nutritional quality,
the study found.

This new study could really fuel the debate about marketing to children, as pointed.

Let’s hope it does some good!

Obesity: Even Our Doctors Won’t Tell Us We’re Fat

Note from Connie: What’s a doctor to do when his patient is overweight or obese? Confront the patient?  Warn him or her that heart disease, type 2 diabetes and an early death likely lie in wait? Well, apparently some doctors just plain chicken out when it comes to revealing the truth, according to a recent study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, which Karen James tells us about. 

Dear blog readers, I invite you to talk back to us: Would you rather have a doctor lie by omission or tell you the truth and possibly save your life if your weight was higher than it should be? In fact, remember that situation I discussed previously in which this doctor actually got in trouble for bluntly telling a patient she was fat?

Generally speaking, we’re not in favor of lying. But when your friend/girlfriend/wife asks you if her jeans make her look fat, it’s not exactly like you can tell her that her the truth.

Evidently, doctors aren’t any more likely to level with us, according to a a story we read on by CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

A review of more than 9,000 patient records found that doctors at the famed Mayo Clinic
in Rochester, Minn. basically lied to most of their obese patients by not saying anything about their need to lose weight.

The M.D.s there diagnosed only 505 patients as obese when they examined more than 2,500 obese patients (between November 1, 2004 and October 31, 2005).


Deep Fried Coca-Cola? Yuck! You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

What is our SUGAR SHOCK! nation coming to? A couple of times recently, a TV piece (which I saw while en route in a New York City taxicab) spotlighted this horrifying, artery-clogging, inflammation-triggering concoction that is actually landing in the bellies of some Americans at health fairs around the country.

Goodness grief: These fans of deep-fried-soda must have the most twisted taste buds imaginable and simply no clue or care about the massive harm that this "food," if you want to call it that, could cause.

Come to think of it, a while back, a date told me about this disgusting, carb-loaded, calorie-packed junk food, but I simply forgot to post about it here. But I notice that, a while back, the ever-watchful,  Slashfood wrote about this disgusting, deep-fried Coca-Cola dish, which was attracting interest at the State Fair of Texas.

In fact, as WFTV Orlando tells us, thanks to the Associated Press and Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc., vendor Abel Gonzales Jr. reportedly:

  • Deep fries a Coca-Cola-flavored batter, then
  • Drizzles Coke fountain syrup on it and finally
  • Tops it with whipped cream, cinnamon
    sugar and a cherry