Gen X at 40

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Flea -

Well, the Ford Pinto always speaks very highly of you!

David Janes -

<blockquote>
It is not a matter of "the food police" stopping you from eating fat. It is a matter of public health that this artificial fat be removed from the market.
</blockquote>

<p>
You can try to define this away all you want, but transfats are exactly a "food(/health)" police issue. Public health issues in regards to food should deal with items like "not washing ones hands" or "feces in the spinach", where there's a definite correlation to disease/death and no possible cost/benefit analysis could make sense; when it over steps this line, it's "food police". What else could "food police" possiby mean?

Alan -

Eat all the fat you want, David. Buttercicles everyday as far as I am concerned. But there is a huge correlation between transfats which are plasticized food and heart disease. Science in. This product fails.

You enjoy recreational shunning of reality which is fine for your life's plan but not understanding the basic science involved with this product failure is too simple not to be intentional.

David Janes -

You're missing my point, though I take yours. What's the "food police" if not what you're describing right now?

Flea -

David, you are never going to crack that wall of socialist moral certainty masquerading as scientific certainty. Maslow called it an "authoritarian personality".

Alan -

There are dangers that are beyond the ability of the marketplace to solve. We do not wait for the marketplace to provide safe water or safe air. Sanitary and safe food is one of the oldest forms of regulation. Even medieval law protected us from hidden poisonous ingredients in beer. This one process is no different that slipping a little coal tar in your porter as might have been the case in around 1790. "Food police" is a term, a euphemism, used to describe stopping people from making choices - like in the recent but thankfully passed Adkins carbohydrate hysteria. This one product is beyond that: a distinction comparable to that between universal suffrage and all aspects of feminist theory. I am free to decide what bits to select within the latter but without the former no one is free.

I say run with any diet you like, eat and smoke and drink whatever you like at home in the car or anywhere it does not affect me. But do not slip a 1970s preservative into the system that has about 200 times the harmful of beef tallow and pretend that we have choice to figure out where and when it exists - especially at a fine restaurant where it would be the last ingredient you could imagine and one which certainly would not be on the menu. That is what public health is for and - to be fair to your use - if that is policing health, that is OK with me.

David Janes -

To summarize, if I may, you believe it's a public health issue and thus bannable/regulatable if all these preconditions are met:

i. there's a correlation between consumption and mortality/mobidity
ii. it is difficult avoid without pendantic behavior on the part of the consumer

... and maybe also ...

iii. it's artificially made

I'm not setting up a trap here, I'm just trying to understand your position.

Flea -

I am in favour of disenfranchising whole categories of people - including myself - so the suffrage analogy is lost on me, I'm afraid.

Alan -

Only your first. There is no doubt that the science is in. I would add that it is also difficult to avoid due to its inherent nature and the processes used by the marketplace that hide its presence.

An example. I am allergic to sodium metabisulfate to an irritating but not deadly degree. It is often not on the label being supposedly a wholesale or producer level preservative. As the ingredient is not put into the product by the final producer, it sometimes is not noted. I find out when my respiratory system starts to clench up.

If consumers cannot make decisions due to lack of information, it needs to be regulated so that the choice can be informed. If there is no choice due to the food simply being a deadly hidden adulteration with no benefit to the consumer, it ought to be banned.

Otherwise, how do we decide what other poisons ought to be in our food? Why bother responding to Walkertons? Ought we intentionally harm ourselves for the theoretical sanctity of the market?

Flea -

Coal-tar is toxic, btw. Even when used as an ingredient in a topical solution, 5% coal-tar is considered to be carcinogenic. So that analogy with trans-fats fails as well.

Flea -

<i>If consumers cannot make decisions due to lack of information, it needs to be regulated so that the choice can be informed.</i>

I fail to see what how a call for better labeling necessitates a ban on a food product you have decided is bad for people.

I am also missing the part of the thread where David or I are making a fetish of the market.

Alan -

Transfats are toxic unlike any other natural fat. That is why I referred to coal tar due to the similar adulteratory effect. You have to do a little more that pop knee-jerk responses, Flea.

Alan -

Regulate where it is consumable but with a downside like palm oil or Coke. But ban where there is no upside and consistent unacceptable harm. What can be simpler? What bit about not leaving rat poo and glass in the hot dogs don't you get?

David Janes -

It is good to note that "poisonous" and "carcingenic" do have real medical meanings.

So if "there's a correlation between consumption and mortality/mobidity", then:
- regulate if there's no upside
- ban if there's no upside

David Janes -

Sorry:
- regulate if there's an upside

Alan -

I think "correlation" is the difficult word in your formula. There is an a requirement to regulate for informative purposes if there is an upside. This goes to simple proper labelling as much as health. We need to have each cut of meat, for example, described properly so there is no passing off. Banning where there is overwhelming downside. Sugar has a downside but we are informed where it exists and made decisions accordingly. This one thing is of a different level, created only for unrefrigerated storage, causing huge cardiovascular compromise to no benefit to the consumer. Adulteration.

Flea -

The American Council on Science and Health expresses concerns about trans-fats hysteria:

http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.1415/pub_detail.asp

You know, the kind of hysteria that comes from people implying that smearing beef tallow on my head will cause cancer.

Temujin -

I feel like eating some Twinkies.

Alan -

In your own hysteria, you have missed the point entirely if you think I am against smearing beef tallow on my head will cause cancer. Transfats are a non-natural fat, the result of a chemical process that makes them not degrade. As a result, they do not degrade when in your body as beef tallow does. It merely lodges. Which is what makes this an entirely distinct question from other fats. Smear away but read up more about this particular subject.

Flea -

Your condescending advice to read up on the subject is now returned to you:

http://www.businessandmedia.org/commentary/2006/20060712144241.aspx

Alan -

You seem to find public health information in places like www.businessandmedia.org. Am I correct? I would hate to condescend if you have uncovered a great new source of news relating to medical science.

Alan -

Oh dear. You really can't be expecting people to read that sort of stuff. Read up and you will find that the scientist who invented the hydrogenation process in the 1970s began warning of the implications not very long after. It was an attempt to avoid the problems associated in the 1970s with butter but soon became clearly worse - except the food production industry got ahold of its low cost. So you have a case where most who advocated for it initially are against it. If you think that is the "gotcha", well, good luck to you.

David -

I notice you've dropped a new objection to the discussion, that of "non-naturalness", which I'm sure is supposed to read "artificially made".

OK, given what's been written up to this point I have several objections.

a. the issue of "no upside"
b. the issue of correlation
c. the issue of the science

I also have a "liberal" (in the classic sense of the word) but since people look at me funny when I talk about freedom, I shall leave that off the table.

Taking one issue at a time: Issue (a) -- is there any upside to transfats?

Yes, I would claim significant upsides -- there is as much of an upside as there is allowing people to drink Coke or eat potato chips:

- it allows food to be cooked moist and crispy
- it makes food have a longer shelf life, thus reducing their costs (which is very beneficial to consumers) and reduces the chance of eating spoiled food
- for occasional cooks, such as myself, things like Crisco are very convenient to have around the house

Mom uses margerine for some baking (not me, expensive sticks of butter all the way). KFC and McDonald's (and many others) have found it difficult to remove transfats and provide a product their customers wish to buy. This is exactly analogous to Coke, a useless product with no real nutriounal value but tastes yummy (especially when cut with Cpt. Morgan and cooled with ice cubes) and thus improves the quality of the life eating/imbibing.

By the "Coke" metric and given yardsticks we've already established, TFs should be regulated and not banned.

David -

To briefly touch the point, a business advocate is as good a source for information as a public health advocate; each has there own adgendas and all the facts presented are independently verifiable. And unlike people looking to improve my health for my own benefits, citizens can and do sue businesses if they dick you around too much.

gorthos -

Did you know that fat free margarine is one molecule away from being a spider monkey?!?

Alan -

Yet people and the media squawk about class actions (and legislatures in response to the commercially-backed swakery restrict such access to the courts) against food manufacturers instead of treating them like the regulatory system you suggest.<p>Non-naturalness is not an issue so much as undigestability and residue left in the body that, like mercury and unlike all other natural fats, the body is not built to cope with.

gr -

Alright gorthos! How about them Patriots, huh?

gorthos -

Gary. With all due respect, we shall not talk of the game yesterday else verbal abuse shall erupt.. grumble.

David -

<blockquote>
Non-naturalness is not an issue so much as undigestability and residue left in the body that, like mercury and unlike all other natural fats, the body is not built to cope with.
</blockquote>

<p>
I disagree; it's the _effect_ of all those things you're talking about that makes the difference, not the things themselves. This is not a trite distinction, I think.

cm -

But how do you separate the thing from its effect?

Flea -

Gorthos: That spider monkey thing has me freaked.

Did you know that the FDA allows two rodent hairs per 100 grams of peanut butter? True fact. Therefore we should ban peanut butter.

Alan -

Flea: You can digest rat hair. The anti-rat hysteria has to end. Note that my code for this comment was "slyian" and I think that means the god of the internet is unhappy with you.

David: I am not clear on what you mean, can you state it again?

ry -

Al, speaking as a chemist, you're cracked. Science is in, but you aren't using much it would seem.

TOxic? I hope you don't let your wife use any lotions then. They're loaded with lipids and fats. She's killing herself!
Natural fats are utterly digestible without serious detrimental effects? Explain arterial sclerosis pre-WW2 then. I'll wait(hmm, bacon). Or getting the 'chits' after eating a very fatty breakfast(ohhhhh, bacon). Trans fats really came to be as replacements for butter during that time. The fact that it forms a solid is a result of intra-molecular bonding that otherwise wouldn't occur without the trans-addition(trans as opposed to syn addition) of the R group(whatever the hydrocarbon chain actually is. I don't know so I'm using the generic R which is standard for this.) acrossed the double bond of the unsaturated fat(and being unsaturated doesn't mean it has NO deleterious effect, it just means lesser. Unsat fats have some funky geometries(unsaturation means double bonds. Long hydrocarbons with mutliple db take on some odd kinks in the chain) and also bind to the walls of you blood vessels. Just less often.

Yes Al, I expect people to pay farkin' attention and read labels. That's what the LABELS are there for, as well as the litigation that got them there. If we're out to save people from their own stupidity why don't we make them all take the bus, wear nerf uniforms everywhere, and forbid them from turning their radios above 85Db too?

ANd anyone who has watched Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network knows that there are reasons why Foodies use margarine/transfats in some dishes. It's chemistry. So if science is in why doesn't that matter?

Alan -

Please review again. On one side trans fats, on the other all other fats. Note:<blockquote class="smalltext"> In the course of making vegetable oil suitable for deep frying, it is subjected to a chemical process called hydrogenation, which creates a new substance called a trans unsaturated fat. In the hierarchy of fats, polyunsaturated fats--the kind found in regular vegetable oils--are the good kind; they lower your cholesterol. Saturated fats are the bad kind. But trans fats are worse: they wreak havoc with the body's ability to regulate cholesterol. According to a recent study involving some eighty thousand women, for every five-per-cent increase in the amount of saturated fats that a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by seventeen per cent. But only a two-per-cent increase in trans fats will increase her heart-disease risk by ninety-three per cent. Walter Willett, an epidemiologist at Harvard--who helped design the study--estimates that the consumption of trans fats in the United States probably causes about thirty thousand premature deaths a year.</blockquote>As the product was (we all agree) build to not break down under normal organic conditions (exposure to air and digestive tracts) it is not a surprise that the body, an organic process, does not break it down. Normal fat intake requires normal exercise but if this goo cannot be exercised away, if it is beyond the capacity of bodies to deal with and causes innordinate build up harms as a result, it is toxic is it not? Is there some special definition of "toxic" that excludes overloading the system with synthesized food that has unintentional but unavoidable harm? What else would we allow in the community's food chain, regulated since the Egyptians as a matter of course, that both causes harm and is easily replaced?

Hans -

Trans fats have been banned in Denmark for years. The last time I checked, their society was still intact.

Alan -

But the terrorist won when that happened.

Hans -

I can't imagine a society that bans trans fats being strong enough allow freedom of speech in relation to satirical cartoons. It goes against everything David Frum instilled in me. ;)

Flea -

Linky love in your quote please, Alan. I am eager to make an <i>ad hominem</i> response seeing as you are so fond of them.

Flea -

ry: Stop trying to distract Alan with your fancy science talk. NPR said it therefore it must be true.

Flea -

Hans: All sorts of things are banned for your own good in "Saudi" Arabia and their society is also intact.

Alan -

As you have read all previous works under links above you will already know. Oddly today you seem to be able to dish it out first but boo-hoo when your own stylings are mirrored back to you but it is always odd how anti-science hysterist entitlement (the love child of blogging and the conservative agenda) loves science when it is convenient.

Alan -

Mmmm...glass shards in hot dogs...measure of a free and modern democratic society...

Hans -

Nothing ry says rebuts Al's point. Al is saying trans fats are toxic if ingested. There must be quite a bit different chemistry involved between body lotion and ingestion. I certainly haven't downed a tub of Nivea lately or whet my whistle with some Oil of Olay (how old do you think I am?). What is the definition of toxic? I've heard some people say alcohol is toxic. Many people drink alcohol, but it is a regulated product. Some forms of alcohol, like the kind that is so concentrated it makes you go blind, is outlawed in Canada. Moonshiners, though, do offer some very high-test products outside the regulatory framework, so I guess there is a full range of consumer choice in that arena. Savage Harbour Brew, anyone?

Hans -

"Hans: All sorts of things are banned for your own good in "Saudi" Arabia and their society is also intact."

So, the regulation of trans fats in Canada would be the thin edge of wedge catastrophically "trans"forming our society toward what? Saudism or Nordic-Stateism? Or some grotesque hybrid?

Alan -

The terrorist wins when we are confused.

Flea -

Alan: You are making a number of self-contradictory arguments at once with the only common strands being grievance and a generalized appeal to authority. If you have an argument to make I will be glad to entertain it. The only "boo hoo" I detect is yours when you are called on your assertions and respond by changing the subject. You can, for example, own your earlier comparison of trans-fats to coal tar or distance yourself from your comparison of trans-fats to coal tar but not do both. Or at least, not do both and be taken seriously.

For what it is worth, I avoid trans-fats, personally. This is quite different imposing my dietary choices on all and sundry. Is there anything else you would like to deny the rest of us because your self-restraint has failed you? One cannot fault you for your Protestantism; in this at least your consistency is peerless.

Flea -

Hans: If you wish to make ludicrous analogies than by all means do so. You have, apparently chosen the perfect forum for it. But your argument is ill-disposed when you rebut it the moment it is thrown back at you.

David Janes -

Re: my point way back up there. You're claiming that substance FT does X and Y to the body. I'm saying X and Y don't matter, it's what the effects of X and Y are on the body that matters -- i.e. increase mortality or mobidity.

This is an important distinction; for example, putting fake suntan cream on makes you orange. Whether you want your skin to be orange or not is your own business; however, if making your skin orange makes you cancerous, well we have an issue. So it's not _orangeness_ that matters, it's the cancer.

The same issue exists with your statements about TFs: you claim it's not natural, it lodges in your body, it's undigestable -- all statements that (whether designed to or not) make an emotional response of disgust. This isn't science, it's advocacy.

gorthos -

mmmm monkey

Monkey bushmeat is commonly consumed in tropical Africa. Monkey meat is prepared fresh in rural areas. It is also smoked to preserve it and allow it to be sent to market in the cities. A common sight along rural roads is smoked whole monkeys for sale, tales tied to heads to make carrying handles. Fresh monkey meat is often cooked in a Tomato Sauce made from tomatoes, chile peppers, and onions. Smoked monkey meat can be prepared in a Tomato-Peanut sauce: Soak the smoked meat in water, then rinse and drain it. Fry tomatoes, onions, chile pepper, in hot non-trans-fat oil. Add tomato paste and the monkey meat. Simmer until all is tender. Season with salt and pepper. No Butter, Margarine is required due to the genetic similarity.

Alan -

No, it is science as the passage now twice cited shows:<blockquote class="smalltext">... for every five-per-cent increase in the amount of saturated fats that a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by seventeen per cent. But only a two-per-cent increase in trans fats will increase her heart-disease risk by ninety-three per cent.</blockquote>On the contrary, you are being emotional using a right to market forces while no one has yet to show anything refuting the inordinate damage done by this compound in the quote I have now thrice (<i>thrice</i>) supplied.

Marian -

I'm a little worried here that we're going to start regulating chocolate or pork lard next.

Also, trans fats were introduced as a health measure because it was suddenly discovered that saturated fats sucked, as ry said. Trans fats were assumed to be better because they were made from vegetable oil. Millions ate the stuff because they thought it was for people who were on a diet (as an aside: my grandfather, who was a diabetic, ate margarine every day of his life and lived to be 95) . I say this only because Malcolm Gladwell, bless his heart, is suggesting that we replace trans fats with Olestra (another new product which is also supposed to be good for us!), which has side effects that he downplays and which may ultimately prove to also suck. We already know it causes 'rectal leakage' ack! I think we should regulate information on these products, i.e., regulate labels so that they offer full disclosure and leave the choice up to the buyer. All ingredients should be known. All results of tests should be known. But we should let people decide to take risks if they want to.

Flea, if you don't want the vote, move to Dubai. Stop rubbing our nose in your incoherence when it comes to democracy.

gr -

The mild case of indigestion I had after lunch has been greatly increased and I feel I might need an ambulance. Thanks Gorthos!

Master Flea: Did you meet cm Friday night? A little chick with big boots calling herself Alan? Anybody else see this elusive creature?

Alan -

I would have tallow for all. There is no connection to other fats and slippery slopes. Is that the anti-science banner being waved back there?

gorthos -

What I want is olestra. Fat free, tastes great. Sure, you have to sprinkle a little pepto bismol on your stir fry, but hey, waddya want??

David Janes -

Where have I mentioned "market forces" once in this discussion? And I acknowledge your point that transfats are bad for you (though I suspect not so bad as it's made out). What I am building to is:

- it's no worse for you than coke
- it definitely has an upside, which is why people use it

gorthos -

gary. Can you score some fat free goodies made with Olean in NY? We cannot here due to food nazis. ;)

http://www.olean.com/

Hans -

"This is an important distinction; for example, putting fake suntan cream on makes you orange. Whether you want your skin to be orange or not is your own business; however, if making your skin orange makes you cancerous, well we have an issue. So it's not _orangeness_ that matters, it's the cancer."

David, you're right, that is an important distinction, but I think Alan does make that all-important connection between the "effect on the body" (as you say) and the actual harm from this effect on the body with this information he posted:

"According to a recent study involving some eighty thousand women, for every five-per-cent increase in the amount of saturated fats that a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by seventeen per cent. But only a two-per-cent increase in trans fats will increase her heart-disease risk by ninety-three per cent. Walter Willett, an epidemiologist at Harvard--who helped design the study--estimates that the consumption of trans fats in the United States probably causes about thirty thousand premature deaths a year."

Alan -

Flea: I do not know how to respond to a general claim that I can't be understood when others clearly are understanding.

David: you make a claim to the market here.

gr -

Gorthos, I swear....pepto bismol on your stir fry! Gawd, I wish I'd gone to high school with you, I probably wouldn't have ditched and flunked out.
I am not sure what olean is and am too lazy to look. Because I have no wish to eat trans fats and have lactose intolerance, I eat this buttery stuff on my toast and it is fantastic--basically whipped olive oil http://www.earthbalance.net/product.html
If you shop in certain stores in this hippie/socialist/vegan town there are no trans fats anywhere.

Hans -

Flea: I hate to say you started it, but... in relation to ridiculous analogies, well, you started it. What I did was highlight the ludicrousness (ludicrosoity?) of your analogy by extending it to its logical limits. I think its called sarcasm. All of which served to underscore the strength of my original point (made by implication) that banning of trans fats may not represent an attack on our fundamental Canadian freedoms leading to our ruination and that Denmark is an example of a jurisdiction that banned the material without major consequence. Aside from not leading to total social collapse, I think the Danes have just as much freedom of choice as Canadians, and in specific relation to food choice, I think they have just as many. Heck, I've even seen French Fries (Freedom Fries?) there.

Hans -

[We're a spirited bunch today!]

cm -

They will take my pork lard out of my cold, dead hands. Nothing quite like beans sprouts fried in a little bacon fat.

David Janes -

OK, fair enough. KFC wants to sell tasty chicken = "market forces".

Hans: Al asked me to clarify a point I was making, which I did. The reason I'm bringing it up is that if we want to talk about the science, then we have to actually find the science parts to talk about them. (Which will come soo after I do some more digging through the WWW of lies).

Alan -

GOLD!!! "WWW of lies"

Flea: I am sorry. I have not really paid any attention to this as I hunt for the full scope of "inspect". The terrorist wins if we cannot talk.

David Janes -

The thing about public health science is it's very very very tricky and difficult to intrepret; innumeracy and insciencecy (!) in the media doesn't help either.

<blockquote>
"According to a recent study involving some eighty thousand women, for every five-per-cent increase in the amount of saturated fats that a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by seventeen per cent. But only a two-per-cent increase in trans fats will increase her heart-disease risk by ninety-three per cent. Walter Willett, an epidemiologist at Harvard--who helped design the study--estimates that the consumption of trans fats in the United States probably causes about thirty thousand premature deaths a year."
</blockquote>

My very first comment here is "30,000 premature deaths" is not only a small number, almost stastical noise, but also saying _premature_ deaths is not the same thing as _death_ and is a classic slight of hand used in public health advocacy. If I get hit by a car tomorrow, I'm missing out on 64 more productive years of life. If my heart is failing and I was going to die on Friday, but I end up dying on Wednesday because I went to McDonald's too often, well, that's tragic and shit but in the big scheme of things, no big deal at all.

Here's causes of death in the US for 2003. 2.443 million deaths. 683 thousand by heart disease, which BTW is down 3.6% despite Big Grease ruining our food. Sorry, but I'm failing to see the urgency here. Will do more digging.

David Janes -

BTW: historical note. My Dad's first job was shifting rat shit out of flour.

Alan -

Now you are working it. Go, baby, go. I reserve my right to be <i>proven</i> wrong in all things.

David Janes -

Here's a good article in Spiked!. The references at point 4 are quite good too; note the high correlation between TFs and "crap".

Alan -

But that is just more emotional, as you might say, "people ought to be smart and free and stuff" talk - clearly enunciated in this dopey statement:<blockquote class="smalltext">This debate has come to represent our low regard for the decision-making faculties of adults, as well as the low point of political discourse.</blockquote>Boo-Hoo! As there is no comparator for the judgements made and reality, it is really only more anti-science hysterisist entitlement: "I don't understand so it must be wrong!" [Ed.: <i>And while it does tie in nicely with the other neo-entitlisms like "he got a cheque so should I - who cares that I already have money?" we all know that is nothing but a side-track</i>.]<p>Science, please. Your comment about mortality rates was moving nicely in that direction. Is there an acceptable amount of glass in the hot dog? Just enough to shorten life by five years but only so far down the road no one cares?

Alan -

This has more gotcha in it than anything else I have read. This, too, and it is from Fox News so it has to be amongst the cleverist.<p>You know, science <i>is</i> junk when you think about it.

lrC -

>Many people drink alcohol, but it is a regulated product. Some forms of alcohol, like the kind that is so concentrated it makes you go blind, is outlawed in Canada.

One can buy high-proof alcohol in Canada. Unlike trans-fats, alcohol really is a poison and people really do binge on it to the extent of engaging the poisonous effects, thus requiring a taxpayer-funded hospital experience if their consumption was paradoxically too modest to make the transition to death irrecoverable. Alcohol also influences various other decisions - drunk driving, date rape, wife and child abuse, etc. I have not yet heard of a linkage of trans-fats to any of those. The question is, do we regulate trans-fats? The answer is yes: read your product labels. A consumer can make informed decisions.

As for the cumulative effects of eating too much, a person can do in his circulatory system on regular old animal fats. Of course, animal fats don't extend product shelf life. (Presumably we could pickle stuff in alcohol, though, but the side effects of consuming your favourite alcohol-preserved snack might prove daunting.)

The issue, really, is whether a person should be allowed to slowly do himself in by his indulgences - too much naturally fatty food, too much unnaturally fatty food, too much alcohol, too many recreational narcotics, too much anonymous unprotected sex, too much tobacco, too much time driving or skiing or boating or rock-climbing beyond the actual limits of one's experience and reflexes. All of these end and shorten lives, and have associated health care (and in some cases, social) costs. Those of you utterly disinterested in Activity A would be happy, even enthusiastic, to see it banned since it gives you no pleasure and the shared public costs thin your wallet and you're too lazy or too arrogant to take the necessary actions to avoid it. You would, however, object strenuously to the suggestion that anyone should ban or curtail Activity B, around which your very definition of yourself as a person centres. The just solution here is to allow each person to go to hell in his own way.

David Janes -

I expect there is an acceptable amount of glass in hot dogs, because (a) my earlier point about effects and (b) make glass small enough and it's "dirt".

Spiked! is a good source and don't forget that any one subject has to cover the basis. I am a believer in "a soceity of adults", but as mentioned earlier I won't belabour the concept here.

Back to the science issue. What your being asked to judge is two potential futures for a hypothetical person A, one where they can consume transfats at will (A1) and one where transfats are not available (A2). The main question in my mind when assessing the downside of TFs is what's the difference in life expectancy between A1 and A2? This question could also be restated in terms of morbidity, but that gets even dicier. Don't forget the prototypical A person likes to drink, smoke and won't go to KFC or McDonald's any less -- there'll just be a different ingredient. I expect the answer is "almost no difference" because if there was, that number would be widely trumpted. As a WAG, I bet the answer is measured in weeks, not months or years.

Alan -

Alcohol as I understand it is not a poison as there are two enzymes uniquely dedicated to breaking it down, according to the dimly recalled babblings of med school pals I used to party with. In this way it is like non-symthetic fats. The opposite is true of trans fat and glass. Undigestible if I am right - and no one has yet to provide any internet-based proof of this great sweeping away of science. I am quite sure I am wrong as I am rarely actually right but no one seems to link to anything that:<ul><li>points to errors in the idea that it is something the human digestive tract cannot break down fully, or</li><li>points to errors showing its effects are generally of a kind with other fats in terms of cholesterol.</li></ul>A third possibility is that the effects one way or the other will only be known when people start dropping forty years after the stuff got into general use. <p>Alcohol also does make many ills worse but so does driving. We regulate driving and prohibit it to some. If trans fats are particularly dangerous why not do the same? BTW: I, too, believe in a society of adults but I impart some meaning to the word "society" in the phrase.

lrC -

Whether a substance may be digestible is not a determination of whether it is poisonous; many toxic substances in small doses can be used medically. There's a saying: the dose makes the poison. It's easy to acquire and consume a poisonous dose of alcohol. I have yet to hear of anyone congealing his heart with one sitting's consumption of Twinkies.

Next up, if NYC continues taking its cues from the same scientists, are dairy products, red meat, and soft drinks.

The proper meaning of "society" is "how we tolerate each other", not "how some rule others".

David Janes -

"The dose makes the poison" is an excellent quote, I had forgotten that. Our bodies are quite excellent at dealing with toxins and pathongens too, and in fact may need low amounts of them for "training". But this works again to one of my points: what's effect, and in particular, what's the decrease in life expectancy.

And though I keep saying I'm not going to go down this road of argument, I agree with IrC's thought: top positions in public health (hell, public anything) attract people who tend to see others as projects to improve.

Alan -

The proper meaning of anything is the meaning not what someone makes up out of the blue for the comfort of one's faith-based outlook. Nothing like a bit of two-dimensionally conspiratorial libertarianism to bring a level of tedium to any debate. You'll have to ensure you employ reason in the future, IrC, or your stay will be short lived.

Anyway, you also miss the point when you miss that the human body is born to deal with alcohol but not glass-like substances. Adulteration as a cornerstone of millennia of regulation of the market. Without regulation there is no market - that is why there had to be a physically centralized market in the first place. Safe and regulated food exchange. No society without markets and no markets without rules.

David Janes -

If by glass you mean "plutonium", you're certainly right. If by glass you mean "glass", don't be so sure. Our bodies are fairly well evolved to deal with all sorts of crap in our food, including literal crap, toxins, poisons, rocks, sand and so forth.

Alan -

With the shanties, IrC misinterpreting everything everyone else learned in grade 8 and that one comment on the Tobin First Prize Hots post we got 101 - 102 with this one. Which reminds me...are you wearing two tones of Green Lantern green, too?<p><center><img src="images/2006h/green.JPG" vspace="15"></center>

lrC -

I do employ reason, Alan, [Ed.: <i>Yawn</i>]<small>and the existence of the rational and moral being <small>is the sufficient condition for each to belong to himself absent proof of the existence of a creator;<small> social organization is how equals get along with others without any one arrogating to himself the power to rule - <strike>hence my characterization "how we tolerate" rather than "how some rule". Conflict occurs only because one person wants something at the expense of another - you name the dispute, and I'll illustrate the truth of my supposition at the root of it. In a society of adults, the pre-eminent notion is "adult" - as in responsible for self - not "society". What do you imagine of the prospects of a society of not-adults? The root of this (banning) debate, as with so many others, encapsulates as "my choices are freedoms; your choices are hazards". If you don't believe each person belongs to himself, fair enough, but that's a pretty bleak view of the worth of a person IMNSHO.

The human body deals with some indigestibles by passing them through. It is as much a physiological function that some materials are not taken up, as that some are (eg. concentrated in various organs). A person can know the harm of a substance and still enjoy its consumption; what is objectionable is uninformed harm. It is sufficient for people to know the harms and presence of trans-fats in foods (and people should also know the benefit of which food which will not quickly spoil and become, potentially, "poison"), and then to decide whether they enjoy the taste and texture of trans-fats.</small></small></small></strike><p>[Ed.: <i>Please...make it stop.</i>]

gorthos -

Time for a run in the dark then bed for Gorthos. But time enough for another
trans fat free recipe to bump up the count for the post comments!

GRILLED LOIN OF KANGAROO with FIG & ONION

Serves : 10
Quantity Ingredients

1.5 kg Kangaroo Loin fillet (trimmed)

0.100 kg Onion

3 ea Garlic

0.100 ltr Fig syrup

0.100 ltr NON TRANS FAT Oil

0.005 kg Curry powder

0.005 kg French mustard

0.005 ltr Lemon juice

1 jar Figs in syrup

Method

1.Mix marinade in blender. Coat meat with mixture & marinate two hours. Seal kangaroo in hot pan.

2. Place in warming oven. Slice and arrange on plate garnished with whole figs.

Alan -

Where did you get Kangaroo? And was it Kanga or Roo?

gorthos -

http://www.exoticmeats.com/ - Never ordered from them yet
I notice my supplier of muskox/caribou jerkey is shut down right now (www.arcticharvest.com)

So sad.. I usually give it as a gift.

gorthos -

For the epicuian in you
http://www.chowhound.com/

lrC -

Your blog, your rules, your censor's pen. Enjoy.

cm -

I'm not all that fond of figs, any suggestions on a substitute?

ry -

Summa: trans-fats are easily oxidized and digested(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triglyceride---look at the first graphic. Note, it is standard practice to leave the H off the diagram. So when you see R-C=C-R2 it really means R-C=C-R2
H/ \H
All it means to be a transfat is having the position of the Hydrogen(H) and the alkyl groups change position.
R1-C=C-R2(a)----> H-C=C-R2(b)
H/ \H R1/ \H Look up the meanings of sys and trans.). Leave a stick of margarine out on a mildly warm day. That nasty smell is the result of the tri-ol(fat) being turned into organic acids. Trans fats are digestible. IF they weren't they wouldn't cause the arterial plaque that is the METHOD of causation of heart disease(http://www.emedicinehealth.com/coronary_heart_disease/page2_em.htm). If you're going to call on 'science' you'd best get it right because I get pissed when people f' introductory chemistry and intro health material up. Particularly when nitwits come out and tell me, without knowing much of what they are talking about, I haven't made any argument at all when I've made an attempt at a cursory one instead of my thousands of words typical fare.

Al, you've been wrong on just about every particular. Rethink your argument or at least the foundations of it. As Inigo said, 'I don't think it means what you think it means.'
Normal ry response continues(see why I'm verbose, the above doesn't quite get into the details of why):

"Nothing ry says rebuts Al's point. Al is saying trans fats are toxic if ingested. There must be quite a bit different chemistry involved between body lotion and ingestion."
Really. So simply doing this R1-C=C-R2(a)----> H-C=C-R2(b)
H/ \H R1/ \H
((a) is the sys unsaturated fat. (b) is the trans unsaturated fat).
makes something, even though it's just an isomer with very little if at all difference in reactivity, from hunky dory to eat to full blown poison? Yeah, I knew I was wasting my time in college studying this shit. If you have something to say about the underlying chemistry, make the case Hans, otherwise 'Jane, you ignorant slut'.

Fats are not in themselves toxic. Their negative method of action is not of that sort to cause some biochemistry missfire(like say, ethanol, which when drunk in excess of the body's enzymes to break it down causes odd things to happen for hemoglobin, and even when the enzymes specific to ehtanol elimination are working properly the byproducts of such action fuck up hemoglobin action.) But I'm just a fuckin' moron for knowing this shit and studying it for, oh, the last ten years of my life.

They are digestible, even trans fats, and the harm comes from being deposited in the blood vessels not from biochemical action. The problem with trans-fats is not chemical action but mechanical action. They stack well and stick together well. One binds to an arterial wall and the rest follow. That's not toxity. 'Jane, you ignorant slut.'

"As the product was (we all agree) build to not break down under normal organic conditions (exposure to air and digestive tracts) it is not a surprise that the body, an organic process, does not break it down. " Wrong. Utterly wrong. Red pen explodes all over page. You fail intro-food science, Al. Shame. We do not all agree and nobody would agree to that because it is so bold faced WRONG. Take a stick of margarine(trans fat to hell and gone) and leave it out. WHen it smells bad it has undergone oxidation without extreme conditions or catalysis. You're so off on this. It'll cost you $2 US to do this and prove yourself wrong. I'll even mail you the $2.

It is digested(how else does it get into the bloodstream? That's what digested means you know.). It gets into the blood stream as a nutrient(that's where its deadliness comes from.). If it wasn't digestible it would be olestra or other heavily modified molecules that are utterly unable to be absorbed by the intestine. This is 100% wrong.
Not only that you're drawing seriously flawed conclusions from this utterly backwards understanding of the process. The problem is build up of arterial plaque. "According to a recent study involving some eighty thousand women, for every five-per-cent increase in the amount of saturated fats that a woman consumes, her risk of HEART DISEASE (HOW DOES HEART DISEASE OCCUR?)increases by seventeen per cent. But only a two-per-cent increase in trans fats will increase her heart-disease risk by ninety-three per cent. " I'm guessing that this "But trans fats are worse: they wreak havoc with the body's ability to regulate cholesterol.", which shows that the author of such article prob'ly knows dick about the subject, is what's throwing you off.
I'm going to have to do some hueristic hand waving because I'm not going to try and reproduce several chapters of biochemistry here.
You eat 'fat'--triacyglycerols or triglycerides(same thing but chemists and biologists tend to have different names for the same molecule)--- which get broken down for energy and then get phosophorilated to form cholestorol de novo in a long and involved chemical pathway that's only PARTLY represented here(http://web.indstate.edu/thcme/mwking/cholesterol.html).

They perform NO regulatory function what so ever. They are a substrate for action by enzymes---which, being of lesser amount are the limiter in the reaction(you should've listened to your HS chem teacher. He told you stoichiometry and such actually mattered in life.).
You're whole argument is based on BAD writing and misinterpretation of the science behind the issue. Ergo, cracked Al. If you're going to talk about this you better be able to talk about folding induced by inter-molecular hydrogen bonding and such, as that is critical to why poly-unsats are better for you.

Basically, the argument is easily reducable, absent the BS line that trans-fats screw up the regulation of cholesterol formation in the body, is that if you eat too much fat you get arterial blockage and then you die you fat, glutonous bastard. Trans fats, because of the products that come out of the enzymatic pathway, produce ones that are more likely to cause arterial plaque---which is the cause of heart disease and not the non-digestion of trans-fats(again if they were indigestible they'd come out in your poo like olestra does!). Al, you and your supporters here have been wrong on the particulars from word one.

"Alcohol as I understand it is not a poison as there are two enzymes uniquely dedicated to breaking it down, according to the dimly recalled babblings of med school pals I used to party with. In this way it is like non-symthetic fats. The opposite is true of trans fat and glass. Undigestible if I am right - and no one has yet to provide any internet-based proof of this great sweeping away of science."
You're wrong utterly. Go to the back of class. Shame on you Mr. MacLeod for not studying!
There are enzymes that help fight off snake poison. Ergo it isn't toxic? Balls Al. Leave a stick of margarine out of the fridge for a day. When you smell that acrid stench you'll have seen the effects of oxidation of the tri-ols(the fats) to organic acids(R-C=O
HO/ ).
Alcohol, and here I'm assuming you're really only refering to ethanol/grain alcohol becuase any organice molecule with an hydroxyl group as the main functional group qualifies as an alcohol, is toxic. Without those enzymes it would bind to your hemoglobin cells and you'd die. Methanol/wood alcohol does that quite well along with binding to bits thruought your nervous system(causing you to go blind).
The same enzymes that chew up poly-unsat fats also work on sat fats and tras fats. If you're saying, after bashing the net just last week over the 'authority-ness' of it, that I have to produce for you some 'net page that jives with my 7 years of schooling on the matter I'll give you the finger. That's crap. I am a chemist. You can check with UC Davis to see that I did in fact graduate in 2001 with a degree in the subject. I'm not going to waste 2 hours hunting around the net to find what took me thirty minutes to review in The Wife's and mine textbooks(Biochemistry; Second Edition by Voet and Voet(Donald and Judith); Organic Chemistry (Schmid)).

All alcohols, by nature of their pharmacological effects, are toxic. It's simply a matter of whether you over power the bodies ability to cleanse it of the toxin.

Same with trans-fat. IF you eat too much it builds up quickly and causes arterial blockage. Someone who drinks to much we call alcoholic and let him go his merry way to oblivion in a bottle. Why not the same for someone who eats to many trans fat laden french fries in their McDonald's french fry bin?

Both come from nitwit doing things that are, scientifically, bad for him and inherently self destructive(you lose brain cells by getting buzzed from oxygen dep you know) bahviours. What's the difference, scientifically? why we don't make alcohol restrictions based on keeping you from getting a buzz then because it is a self destructive action?
You need to make a case of severity Al, and you haven't made one yet.

ry -

"as ry said. Trans fats were assumed to be better because they were made from vegetable oil." No. I. Didn't. I said it was produced as a cheap replacement for butter in WW2. Nothing about the health consequences or claims about the material in question at the time. Please don't put words in my mouth. I'm in enough trouble with mine own words. Thank you for coming to my defense Marian, dear Marian, but please don't mangle me words up since that leaves me open to misunderstanding of your misunderstanding. Pleeeeease. ;)

" All results of tests should be known. But we should let people decide to take risks if they want to." This is hard. If we did this The Pill would still be in clinical trials to see how a generation responded to prolonged exposure. That would be good science at the cost of social benefit. Hard to balance the two at times. Though the whole VIoxx thing was the result of public pressure on the FDA to streamline and shorten the testing of new pharmaceuticals. People were given the option of their own discretion(knowing that we didn't know everything about the drug because of the compressed time frame) and they still sued.

"- it's no worse for you than coke"
Ack. Stop being on my side Mr. Janes. You're hurting the cause here my good man.
You also fail chem 1. Go back to the back of class with Mr. MacLeod. No horseplay back there or there'll be hell to pay!
Look up the MSDS on caffeine. Look up the MSDS on aspertame. Coke A Cola is nowhere near the same effect biologically, detrimental or otherwise, that transfats do. That's simply a matter of the chemistry of the materials. IF you're going to use science use it correctly instead of doing the 'advocacy' you accuse Al of(which he is doing in my worthless opinion) with a different target.

Crap, I just looked to see what it did to my diagrams. Now they're unintelligble. No fair Al.

Quick, while I'm still out of the Lunar Penumbra

gr -

One imagines that if it hadn't been overly late in Budapest, Marian would have helped the total over 100 long ago.
I wonder who IrC is? ry, wow. Gorthos......

David Janes -

I certaintly never asked to be on your "side", ry.

Coke, in small amounts: harmless. Transfats, in small amounts: harmless. If you're the type of person who drinks a litre of Coke a day, or spends all days shoving KFC and Twinkies down your gullet, or both, you've got an issue. If you have a can of coke on the weekend with a breast of the Colonel, I guarentee that you the statistical effect on your life expectancy is 0, that is, unmeasurable and unpredictable below statistical noise.

And to go back to Al's original original posting: accidental exposure to trans-fans fats by someone who dines out but normal doesn't eat transfats has 0 effect on your life.

Alan -

See, that is <i>all</i> I was looking for. No ideology and no positions without facts attached. That is one of the greatest comments ever. I particularly like this bit:<blockquote class="smalltext">But I'm just a fuckin' moron for knowing this shit and studying it for, oh, the last ten years of my life. They are digestible, even trans fats, and the harm comes from being deposited in the blood vessels not from biochemical action. The problem with trans-fats is not chemical action but mechanical action. They stack well and stick together well. One binds to an arterial wall and the rest follow. That's not toxity. 'Jane, you ignorant slut.'</blockquote>That being said, a propensity to create plaque in increased amounts was kind of my point and if that is not a form of toxicity, ry has corrected the word. Again, ry writes:<blockquote class="smalltext">Trans fats, because of the products that come out of the enzymatic pathway, produce ones that are more likely to cause arterial plaque---which is the cause of heart disease and not the non-digestion of trans-fats(again if they were indigestible they'd come out in your poo like olestra does!).</blockquote>I still do not understand why someinthg that is digestible is considered toxic but htat does back to the special meaning of the word.<p>Good word, ry. Shame on the rest of you for not being a, I believe the term is, f'ing chemist.<p>David: go back to my original post. I was surprised that it was an ingredient in a fine restaurant that was using it and that I considered it a Pinto of food production. That increased plaquing is enough for me to avoid it. But I think after what you and ry have written I am happy with the labelling and would work hard to avoid it even more.

Hans -

To ry: As we say on the Island: "easy, big dog."

Your expertise is chemistry, mine is words, when the two come together, I may overstep the bounds of my expertise to criticize another persons' words based on their words but end up criticizing their knowledge of the subject matter. Sorry about that. I do not question your chemistry knowledge and if you've studies it for 10 years, well, that's 10 years more of chemistry knowledge than I possess. That being said, the language of your first post that I referred to did not actually rebut Al's point DEPENDING on what we understand to be "toxic" or "digestible". I think its fair to say you clarify these definitions on your later posts. I certainly have no knowledge allowing me to question these clarifications.

Best Regards,

Hans

Hans -

Hey, I just read ry's comment's again (for the 4-5th time, actually) and I did get something right!!! I said alcohol was a toxin and he later says it was due to "pharmacological effects"!!! Yes, I just might get my chemistry credit after all!!! Or at least get a better mark than Al and David???!!!

P.S. Are we over 100 yet!!!

Alan -

I still do not understand how something that creates extra crud that sticks around is fully digested but I thinking that it is because of that it is a product of digestion rather than the thing itself. The real question, posed thrice (<i>thrice!</i>) above is the rate of congestion of the artery caused by trans fat is that much higher. As some point, extra clogging requires extra exercise - not normal exercise - and at some point that extra effort has to be part of the labelling communication. It is not enough to say stupid fat people when the product makes things twice or 20 times more difficult to maintain the same level of cardio-vascular health.

gorthos -

I dunno, I don't want to blatantly yack on about "what I do for a living" but still:

http://www.ynhh.org/online/nutrition/advisor/trans_fats.html

but then again:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0813/is_n2_v15/ai_6482599

However the most trusted source I know of is as follows:

http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/061010_bad_trans_fats.html

I personally don't eat butter or lard when I cn avoid it. I buy low fat or fat free everything because all the men in my family have chosen coronary explosion as a means of long term suicide and I don't want to. I use low fat light trans fat free margarine much to my wife's (dairy farmers daughter) chagrin and soy milk (except in my tea at home). I eat lots of fruit and veggies and exercise almost daily. I could probably deal with trans fat in my diet however the average schmoo who doesn't eat as healthy as they could and doesn't exercise wouldn't.

Alan is correct.

lrC -

As ry reminded us, digestion puts it in the bloodstream. Excretion might eventually remove it, if the rate of accumulation doesn't exceed the rate of removal.

Alan -

Are you going to force me to your will, IrC? Make me make a GX40er out of you? Well, seeing as you came back after both insulting Randians and using my patented super small strike-out on you you have just passed your cadet commenter test. The badge is in the mail.

I think you raise the thing I do not get. If there is a vastly increased rate of accumulation, as the thrice quoted words say, ought not that be in the warning. For example, if my lifestyle of moderate activity deals with natural fats but a regular trans fat diet requires an extra mile walk a day to maintain heart health, shouldn't that be stated somewhere? Should there not be a correlation like there is in calorie guides?

Marian -

"as ry said. Trans fats were assumed to be better because they were made from vegetable oil." No. I. Didn't. I said it was produced as a cheap replacement for butter in WW2. Nothing about the health consequences or claims about the material in question at the time. Please don't put words in my mouth. I'm in enough trouble with mine own words. Thank you for coming to my defense Marian, dear Marian, but please don't mangle me words up since that leaves me open to misunderstanding of your misunderstanding. Pleeeeease. ;)

No problem. What you said (I guess) was that people had heart attacks before trans fats which was a thought that I wanted to pursue. I didn't mean to misquote you and I'm sorry. Didn't realise right away when I started writing that someone had already mentioned the history of trans fats. Then I read what others had said. We were both wrong though. It's true that trans fats were not introduced for health reasons. I got that wrong, but I got it wrong because trans fats got a boost when people turned against saturated fats. You were wrong to say that trans fats were produced in WWII. In fact they had been around for some time when the second world war began (Crisco was in fact introduced in 1911) http://www.crisco.com/about/history/1911.asp. The fact that trans fats were used by many because they thought they were better for you is still true and the idea that they were healthier was linked to the fact that they were made from vegetable oils. The cheapness may have been the original reason for preferring them, but the alleged health benefits were also there though these were introduced later.

I am not a trans fat eater. The reason I am not a trans fat eater is because I listened to my biology teacher in high school who had the foresight to talk to us about hydrogenation (he expressed doubts about the healthiness of partial dehydrogenation and a bunch of other things as part of his job). I had the foresight to pay attention.

gorthos -

mmmm.. lard
http://www.lileks.com/institute/orphanage/orphans/lard.html

gorthos -

My wife used to eat Cow Pie made from colostrum down on the farm.. I looked it up. It is disgusting. Egad, her english father boiled roasts and made pie from cow colostrum.. eeek

http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/colostrum.html

Am I #100?

lrC -

>If there is a vastly increased rate of accumulation, as the thrice quoted words say, ought not that be in the warning. For example, if my lifestyle of moderate activity deals with natural fats but a regular trans fat diet requires an extra mile walk a day to maintain heart health, shouldn't that be stated somewhere? Should there not be a correlation like there is in calorie guides?

Where do we draw the "bright line"? I don't think the propensity of people to obesity (aka "obesity epidemic") in the age of inexpensive and abundant food coupled with increasingly sedentary means of leisure calls for governmental intervention. I can't afford a steady intake of trans-fats on my calorie expenditure regimen, but neither can I afford steak-and-egg breakfasts, takeout pizza weekly (regardless of the source of fats in the meats and cheeses), etc. Almost everything in excess is harmful; how much impact will a warning label "Consume only in moderation" have if it appears on everything? I doubt switching from trans-fats to animal fats will make much difference to the morbidly obese people who vastly overmeet their daily energy requirements. Trans-fats aggravate an existing problem, but since trans-fats also have their uses (spoiled food can kill you more quickly than heart disease) the root of the problem - basic nutritional prudence - is the one to be addressed.

Alan -

Are you not ignoring the change that the trans fat represents from all other non-symthetic fats if that quotation above about inordinate accumulation of goo is correct? How does basic nutritional prudence, understood through practice in relation to known elements, deal with something which operates on a much higher factor of artery clogging. That is the anti-informed choice effect - its inherent and inordinate excess. Without the knowledge of the particular characteristic people cannot make free choices about the stuff.

lrC -

I don't characterize my position as ignoring the "delta" of trans- versus animal fats, if you will, but rather as stepping back and looking at the whole change that should be due in dietary habits with respect to modern lifestyles. The distinctions between types of fats and sugars are less important than the volume with respect to overall health.

As one who leans libertarian, I agree strongly that "informed" is an important characteristic of choice. So, carry on with product labelling. I routinely assess stuff for animal/trans-fat content, overall fat content, and respective measures of saturated and unsaturated fats. But how much more do people need to know to drive home the message that a regular and large intake of snacks and fast foods isn't particularly healthy?

And, many people can't be bothered to read labelling. Suppose for the sake of their laziness we simply ban trans-fats. So they go on eating potato chips and crackers and frozen french fries and everything else, with people occasionally succumbing to the effects of something that went bad sitting on the shelf of a convenience store in a small, remote Canadian community that doesn't receive daily deliveries. Have we solved a problem? I doubt it. Have we re-introduced other problems? Probably. And we've encouraged a never-ending series of niggling debates. What about the effects of aspartame on memory? What about the chemical hazards of non-stick coatings? What about the chemicals fed to farmed livestock and seafood? And eventually one of your oxen will be gored, too, all because someone else wants to live in a bubble-wrapped world. So my default position is let each person consume his own poison and allow a great latitude for common sense, before we live in world where every person receiving visitors to his home has to give them a WHMIS briefing.

Alan -

Fortunately that is just your solution - which may work for you as a society of one - but a well-regulated modern democratic society doesn't, wouldn't and shouldn't do so.

I think if we take that position you have stated is one impossible future world and perhaps banning is just this side of the other impossible future world, the discussion is really about the degree of labeling and the difficulty assessing the information that is and might be required. I think you are quite right that few read just as few spend their food dollars in a economic and healthy way. It is interesting to note that the focus on labeling here is not on the liability issue, something I have seen as a red herring since I heard of a label on a TV that said "do not immerse in water to clean." No, the common wealth is potentially affected for without good public nutrition - like good public education - we would all suffer collectively from an ignorant (and/or less healthy populace) with all the weakening of the economy and community that this would lead to. So proper labeling is good and helpful and something anyone can opt out of by ignoring it.

gr -

You know, this has happened before. Marian is my hero, first to step on 100 once again.

ry -

"Are you not ignoring the change that the trans fat represents from all other non-symthetic fats if that quotation above about inordinate accumulation of goo is correct? How does basic nutritional prudence, understood through practice in relation to known elements, deal with something which operates on a much higher factor of artery clogging. That is the anti-informed choice effect - its inherent and inordinate excess. Without the knowledge of the particular characteristic people cannot make free choices about the stuff."
To me the question becomes: When is society empowered or required to save one from one's own stupidity?
The outlawing of cannabis, with the data being contradictory on its effects, somehow is a trampling of individual rights and choice(cannibis use increasing drastically the chance one will use a drug with lethal side effects, on the same order of eating trans fats increasing the chance, CHANCE, one will have coronary disease). Why a completly different response here?

At what point do we stop and why do we stop there? What's the justification for not going further in the name of saving us/them from making poor choices?

Eating any fats above the absolute minimum for good health(less than a fist sized steak(6-9oz) a week or simply having ranch dressing on a salad once a week) causes dramatic increase in the risk of coronary disease. Why stop with making people, out of ignorance, willful ignorance in many instances, eat trans-fats while ignoring these other risky behaviours from eating tasty BBQ? Why not make us all be vegatarians who don't eat pie/cookies as that's what's best for us? What level of risk are we allowed to force people to forgoe before it becomes excessive and abusive? And why is it at that level and not some other more libertine level?

Is there disproportionate risk from eating trans-fats? Sure. But what of it? You're increasing your risk of heartattack/death by this increase of arterial plaque over unsat fats(themselves causing arterial plaque). You aren't creating a certainty as when trying to eat a carrot loaded with glass of being cut. That is a critical difference, is it not? This is not the same thing as requiring seatbelts and air bags be included in cars, imo.

"It is not a matter of "the food police" stopping you from eating fat. It is a matter of public health that this artificial fat be removed from the market" This statement could be causing some of the opprobrium, Al. It sounds much like you want it pulled. It sounds like you want a Prohibition on trans fats. To be honest, I don't think that such a case is impossible. The forces of 'you're too stupid to do it right' have already succeeded in having soda machines and candy machines removed from schools and cigarette smoking has caused at least one individual to be fired from a Silicon Valley job here in the lower 48(not to mention much of the other anti-smoking ordinances that are excessive). Not impossible.

gorthos -

Hrmm. I wrote a big comment then it was gone. Maybe I posted it elsewhere which will only add to the confusion of yet another debate ha ha!

Okay, summary of previous comment.

I want nay demand the government legislate bans and restrictions of substances and foods which make people ill or reduce their ability to function in a capacity that aids society as a whole rather than sit back and let people do as they may. In our society, tax dollars prop up the medical/health system which is ever increasingly bogged down by people who have self-inflicted heart disease, alcoholism and stress related disorders.

As someone who pays into this system, which is in fact a form of insurance aganst my own families need for medical aid, I want there to be food/drug police that keep my investment sound. Personal rights stop when they infringe on others and in my opinion, meagre and twisted as it is, if someone ends up on heart medication and in intensive care etc because they ate a food stuff that could have been banned, it is an infringement on MY access to medical aid.

It is a failure of the system because on average, the typical human is dumb and only craves quick pleasurable fixes to en-happy their dreary mundane lives.

People smoke, drink, eat twinkies, watch professional wrestling, rape and carjack because it makes them feel better than they felt before they lit up, poured another, stuffed the crap down their throat etc..

gorthos -

I guess I forgot to sign that Il Duce.. nyuck nuck!

Alan -

<i>Is there disproportionate risk from eating trans-fats? Sure.</i><p>I just want to know what degree of disproportion is involved before I have a sense of where we are but it is between label and ban so far. It makes no sense to say people should make these decisions for themselves if there is no information about the implications of the choice. But ry's information has pushed me from ban to not clear. That is something for the angry pants crowd.

gorthos -

Here is when BR jumps in and calls me pompous this week:

The average dope on the street does not read labels like you and I do. they buy slip covers for their cigarette packages to hide the warnings. The bingo-hall, NASCAR, wrestling fan folk of the nation are the biggest users of the medical system for dealing with preventable illnesses yet they choose to ignore warnings and eat crap willy nilly. Although I fully support proposal 2117 for the deployment of scoops and the production of soylent green from and for the homeless, we must be the caretakers here and protect the masses from themselves oherwise we will have NO ONE but robots to work at the local Macs (soy)Milk in 20 years as they will all be on ventilators. (and we don't like robots do we Alan)

We have to protect the masses from their freedom to choose their own long term suicide.

gr -

My mom made me mac and cheese last night. I covered it with hot sauce. Does that make me a horrible person?

gorthos -

The scoops are coming Gary...

ry -

I'm surprised Al. I would've thought the elements that confirmed your fears carried you into ban territory. And I think you already have seen, with your thrice cited source, what the disproportion is: a doubling of the risk over non-trans fat fat eating diets.

Gorthos finally takes this where I thought this argument always was: cost of the health care system.
Simplifying my position: they paid for it too.

Why does your rights to the health care system supercede theirs when they too paid for it? Don't bogart the Acid Man #1, Herr Gorthos.
(and the elitism is only slight, Il Duce. I happen to watch wrestling by the way, it's male soap opera just as other athletic events are. Just without the outcome not being in question and campier than Rocky Horror.)

I am still unsatisfied as to the 'where do we stop' question by gorthos' answer. How far do we go to prevent 'self-inflicted heart disease, alcoholism and stress related disorders.'? Where do we stop and why do we stop there? Where is the line and why is it there?
"My mom made me mac and cheese last night. I covered it with hot sauce. Does that make me a horrible person?" gr, you're a prince. ;)

Alan -

I think it is not enough to ask rhetorical questions or, as others have, rely on disconnected libertarian theories. It is better to ask "where else do we draw lines and is this similar?"

gorthos -

Just because one pays into a car insurance plan does not mean they have the right to drink and drive and expect the same return for their "investment".

Just because you pay into home insurance doesnt mean you have the right to unplug that freezer "full" of meat then make a claim to the insurer of a loss due to power outage.

As far as wrestling goes, my secret pleasure is UFC watching with my son but I cringe and scoff a lot for the benefit of my pacifist spouse. shh ;)

gr -

ry, my wife was home eating leftovers and I told her my mother had served stewed prunes. I did not feel princely.

lrC -

>Gorthos finally takes this where I thought this argument always was: cost of the health care system.
>Simplifying my position: they paid for it too.

The optimization of health care expenditures is a perennial feature of "ban this, ban that" discussions. Public health insurance is imposed, and for all but the top tier of income earners the resulting taxes (and in some cases provincial health care premiums) effectively deny alternatives, quite apart from the provisions of the federal health care legislation. How one justifies using an imposed insurance scheme to dictate lifestyle choices is an interesting argument I have yet to see made coherently. Doubtless there's a lot of money to be saved by banning all sorts of lifestyle choices which occasionally result in health care crises requiring exotic and expensive treatment regimens; I can hardly wait to be a spectator for that debate.

Alan -

Again with the dislocated universally applicable but non-advancing comment from the nation of one. Do you have these on macros?

lrC -

What do you mean by "non-advancing"? Is a weblog debate something where one person puts up a proposition and everyone else finds reasons to agree with it?

With respect to an earlier question you raised, if we do draw a line by banning trans-fats because heart attack victims receive care at public expense, what else is similar and open to an identically phrased argument which results in a limit on personal choice? I like to ponder the unintended consequences. There are two precedents at stake here: the simple one, that we limit availability of unnecessary and potentially harmful, yet useful or desirable, food substances; the complex one, that we use public health care as a Trojan Horse for personally invasive legislation. (I'll stipulate that either precedent may have already been set to some degree, but I'd prefer to reign in the latter.)

I don't have anything on macros; most topics people bring up have been discussed before so it isn't hard to rehash the discussions. This Al Swearengen/Queen Elizabeth debate (can't we all go to hell our own way?) is one such. (Specific contexts: tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, fast food, high-risk sex practices, etc.)

Alan -

No, it's you that don't advance. Again you trot out rhetorical questions that go nowhere. You call these rehashes but you haven't even hashed. It's sophomoric Randiansim 101 you see all over the place but it does not connect to anything. That is why it can be satisfying to someone content to live in a dream world.

I am hoping to see something interesting enough to not have me just deleting you but you haven't shown anything yet. Do you know anything interesting that you can share?

lrC -

I live my life pretty much as a classical liberal and try to stick to my principles. It connects just fine to the real world most of the time. If you don't like something - trans-fats, for instance - then avoid them. I'm here because I'm curious to learn why you want your preferences to spill over onto others.

gr -

'A classical liberal'. Huh, that's interesting. Not exactly the way I thought the gentleman would describe himself.
I do have to say, Alan, that many of those commenting here are worthless and worth deleting, under the strictest definitions, including or especially anything from me and gorthos. Does IrC wish to introduce himself further?

ry -

Dude, I don't think gorthos or Al or anyone else who is in favor of single payer health care is evil and out to run my life. They may be what I would call 'wrong', but they aren't out to be abusive and authortarian. Pointing out the unintended consequences is one thing, but all but accusing them of wanting to be 'in your bedroom' is another.
___________________________
But gorthos, if you eat any fats at all above a certain level you are doing the same thing: endangering yourself needlessly. The difference is in the degree that you do so. What makes this something you must kick people out the healthcare system(or deny them the ability to indulge themselves) but not carnivorous eating habits in general? There is a base level of fats that must be eaten, but that is a fairly well known amount(in mg/day). If the argument is that knowingly partaking in a self destructive activity constitutes fraud why does, as an example only, Al eating some tasty BBQ that is well in excess of the g of fats needed for several days also not merit it? If it is because the science points to said behaviour leading to expensive healthcare later why in the case of transfats but not naturally occuring unsaturated fats in bbq sauce/animal flesh? If one eats a non-TVP(textured vegetable protein) hamburger(Boca burger) one is doing the same thing as eating a box full of trans fat fries, just not as fast. Why is there a difference in your mind that justifies(or was it demands? I forget.) such action as tossing one out of the healthcare rolls?
My case is tht they aren't partaking in either fraud(the meat locker) or a crime(drunk driving---and neither is the statistical chance of cardiac arrest in the same realm as accidents caused by drunk driving). Also, yes, insurance does cover you for drunk driving---if you pay the extra for such coverage(I've been offered it thru my State Farm). At least to the damage you caused to another car.

I'm not asking for perfectly parrallel analogies but something somewhat close and fair.
They've paid their 'hell or high water' level of insurance by paying taxes to fund the public health care system AND for their own health insurance(US case, Canada may be different). Why shouldn't it pay out when they need it when they've supported the Boomers with their ailments caused by 'bad behaviours'? The idea of insurance is that you'll spread the pain out over many people and many years. Now that the bill comes due you cry foul?

Why is there a difference between this and say parents who willingly give birth to and raise a downs child with the extreme and expensive care that that puts on the system? Or kids with food allergies with the extreme costs they place on society(peanut butter being the mana from heaven for many working poor. removing it from schools is a MAJOR problem)? (both are accelerating problems, along with hemophylia since we have both a larger pop and the means to keep these people alive to breed now) Why can't we say to them, 'Tough. you knowingly did this to yourself and now you must deal with it yourself,' as you seem to be saying is the case with tf? What is the difference that justifies that in your mind?
I don't see this as a defensible position, really. But then again, I'm just a joker chemist(and a near blind one at that) and not a philosopher like Peter Singer(http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/).
"As far as wrestling goes, my secret pleasure is UFC watching with my son but I cringe and scoff a lot for the benefit of my pacifist spouse. shh ;)" I won't tell. I think I can relate though. I'm an Irish Catholic married to a committed, but not militant, atheist. There are just some things that don't get discussed, yes?;)
"I think it is not enough to ask rhetorical questions or, as others have, rely on disconnected libertarian theories. It is better to ask "where else do we draw lines and is this similar?""
Well, I don't ask them rhetorically. I'm asking them seriously. Where and why do you(plural) draw the line?
I'm not sure that asking the advised question gets us where we want to go. Do the above qualify as attempts to not ask simple rhetorical questions and disconnected libertarian theories? I think so, but I'm the crazed angry chemist.;) (that beats the title Barnett gave me: oh-so-wry-ry)

"I did not feel princely." One is not princely because of his larder, gr. Neither is nobility in the blood. (eats my dorrito, but hordes my Castle Argghhh apple fritter. We may need it for the GX40 X(but not XXX)-mas party.)

Alan -

The Gamesters of Triskelion approach to discussion is just so tedious. Ben is the classic liberal, by the way and he also adds to the discussion by being interesting. Questions floating in air, ry, are both falsely superior and condescending. When someone has not established the basis for the underlying respect that condescension requires to pull it off, it is nothing but a bleet. I really do not care what anyone wants to say but at least be interesting and advance discussion.

gorthos -

My other point would be, dear chemist, that no, we cannot prevent the masses from eating twinkies or BBQ ribs or marshmallow fluff with a spoon, but we can (a royal we) instruct through our ministries of health, that a seller of such items not add any man-modified or even naturally produced, items to said foods that are known to add to the medical problems associated with the self indulgence in them. Educating people only works who receive the education and those of whom that receive such choose to listen to it. Canada is a pretty darn socialist country compared to the US where personal rights and property rights are more important to the residents. Here, we tend to like a firm central government that makes decisions and tells us what is safe and not safe and thereby acts to control the nasties. Well, except for small scale farmers and people who live in alberta. They are 3/4 of the way to being from Oklahoma anyways ha ha!

The masses don't know what is good for them and their overuse of the medical system by lack of desire to eat healthy and live healthy lifestyles is an affront to MY life.

To quote Spock:
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

Alan -

No needs of the few or the one <i>in a society</i> are any way affected by labeling and warning. Dreamers who pretend they live in a lego-land where there is no social construct around them, pretending that they walk as the single hero across the moorland providing from nature for his and his alone, may believe there is an additional cost to such interventions but as we know even neo-cons (most of all even the neo-cons what with their expensive taste) intervene and interject with the best of them.

There is no community that actually has any interest in the reduction of the social welfare state that has been the hallmark of the unheard of expansion of western culture and wealth over the last century and a bit. It is only a matter of where and when to best intervene and where to not intervene for the good of each and therefore the good of all. Ry has so far got me between banning and labeling trans fats as part of that sensible collective planning.

ry -

"My other point would be, dear chemist, that no, we cannot prevent the masses from eating twinkies or BBQ ribs or marshmallow fluff with a spoon, but we can (a royal we) instruct through our ministries of health, that a seller of such items not add any man-modified or even naturally produced, items to said foods that are known to add to the medical problems associated with the self indulgence in them."
First, Spock's condition was utterly dissimilar to this. Aboslute death(if I don't fix the warp drive we die in the Genesis Weapon blast, thanks Ricardo Montobaln) vs. a murky maybe(2% increase in transfat consumption increases the probablity, which is not certainty, of contracting coronary disease) is an example of faulty parrallelism.

Second: which brings up why I continue to ask where you would draw the line. BBQ sauce does exactly what you say gov't must prevent: it puts unhealthful fats/materials into food that leads to 'medical problems associated with the self indulgence in them'. Do we require that all steak be held up to a lean-ness standard to limit the amount of natural occuring fat in our meat? Do we force schools to FORCE children of vegans to eat meat--- UCD did a study that proved that a vegan diet for a child is utterly detrimental to their health(both short and long term)---inthe name of their best interest?

Science, or at least discoveries by some, I dislike talking as if science is some entity of its own, shows that eating any fats above a certain mg/day is unhealthy and could be taken to be indicative of selfdestructive selfindulgence. That means steak. That means hotdogs. That means foi grau(SP). That means salad dressing. That means snacks of just about every stripe (even carob). That means fish with anything other than herbs and salt(and maybe even salt depending on how much you've already eaten that day). No more butter(as clear a villian as there can be in this). No more tahini sauce. THat means just about anything tasty (including boca burgers with any condiments).

Which is why I ask not for some naked platitude, that reeks of 'having the True Religion', but for something that says 'this is okay but this is not'. If we were to follow this 'instruct through our ministries of health, that a seller of such items not add any man-modified or even naturally produced, items to said foods that are known to add to the medical problems associated with the self indulgence in them.' we are left with Jello.(Does the continued asking of where do we draw the line make sense now, Al?) If you follow such reasoning, not to the extreme or to 'a logical conclusion' but to where it DEMANDS one go, we have food only for nutrients, micronutrients and calories. This is the path of those who created olestra.

Are you trying to say that it is the SEVERITY of result that means gov't is empowered to do use force to get rid of transfats or are you saying that the sheer 'unhealthfulness' of it alone is what empowers gov't? They are not the same thing.

If one were to take gorthos' terse statement, and the terseness could be causing the lack of nuance, and enact it we are left with JELLO.

Where is the line you draw for the MoH and why do you draw it there? Selfishness is an answer I will accept but not like.

Alan -

There is a reason that line of logic is called reduction to absurdity, you know.

ry -

BUt in this case it is not reductio ad absurdum. It is taking gorthos' words at face value, based on the risk of eating certain foods/certain behaviours as found in foodscience and nutrition fields and not extending it at all.
"that a seller of such items not add any man-modified or even naturally produced, items to said foods that are known to add to the medical problems associated with the self indulgence in them.""
It is known to be the case that eating a 6oz steak contains all the fats(and other nutrients like protein and iron) a human needs for a full day and possibly several---that's about the size of an avg sized man's fist across. Eating more than that is indulgent(by def'n) and leads to health problems down the road(potentially).

I'm not taking anything to absurd levels. I'm talking straight science and on the level. If that means you're reaching what you take as absurd conclusions that say more about the pecking order around here than anything I've written.

I'm not producing anything absurd on this count, nothing I can't back up with access to a nutrition textbook(the one I used for NUT 10(http://teaching.ucdavis.edu/nut10/) with Dr. Applegate(http://nutrition.ucdavis.edu/faculty/applegate.html) at UCD for instance).
Beating a dead horse? Guilty. Si. Aboslutely. I'll take my time in the penalty box for it with head bowed in shame.(Whatever it is that Bill Murray says in Ghostbusters about going to jail.) reductio ad absurdum? No.

Alan -

Beat the horse all you like but "...we are left with JELLO..." is absurd. Admit! Confess!!!

ry -

(in best English trying to be French voice)
I. See. Four. Lights.

I really wasn't kidding about Jello. Even soy has problems with how it funkifies ones endocrine system when eaten in excess(http://www.wholehealthmd.net/news/viewarticle/1,1513,1004,00.html http://www.vegsource.com/articles2/harris_soy_products.htm http://www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com/pdf/fabbean.pdf ). PRoperly formulated and fortified jello is about the only thing that fits what gorthos called for with his hasty statement(don't be hasty, hooooom).

That's not playing fast and loose or pushing to extremes. That's(jello) all that qualifies, or nearly all that qualifies. Which is why I continue to ask how far people really want to push this type of sentiment based on scientific research. Where do we say that we're simply doing society a favor and when have we crossed the line into being scolds when faced with these facts?

I may not be a big social/central planning guy, but all can see the problem with proceeding down the path the path gorthos proposed based on this. Nothing survives (and without me taking things to 'logical extremes') the test of that a seller of such items not add any man-modified or even naturally produced, items to said foods that are known to add to the medical problems associated with the self indulgence in them.' unless we go to a 'no mixing of two cloths' situation. This is no binary problem. Where do you draw the line and why do you draw it there is, was, has been an honest question.

I don't suspect gorthos or anyone else of being true scolds. I just wish they were a little more careful in their wording since that's what it makes them sound like. Yes, before I met my wife I was a very lonely and sad little man with too much time on his hands. Now I'm just a little man with too much time on his hands. Why do you ask?

Alan -

Even by implication, you quite rightly raise the matter of civility once again as it is tied into discourse.

I am thinking of creating a statement of qualifications of regulars because it strikes me that the variety of skill sets present in the regulars is quite the thing. I may frame it on the original Royal Society or maybe the Justice League of America. But in any form we have discussion rather than debate and to get there we have to have mutual respect as well as trust and interest in the different skills and strengths. The bloggy enlightenment is a war on ignorance not a game of whist.

cm -

For the record, there is no trans fat in Doritos.