November 7, 2013

Public has mixed view on banning trans fats

FT_Trans_FatThe Food and Drug Administration’s new proposal to severely restrict trans fats in the U.S. food supply raises questions about the role the government should play in addressing broad public health concerns. A new Pew Research Center survey suggests that the public is divided over this kind of policy.

The nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 2013 among 996 adults nationwide, finds 44% in favor of prohibiting restaurants from using trans fats in foods, while 52% oppose the idea. While this is not the sweeping policy proposed by the FDA today, a number of cities have put such restrictions in place. This question is part of a Pew Research Center survey on how Americans view public health and obesity that will be released early next week.

FT_Trans_PartisanNot surprisingly, opposition to government bans of trans fats in restaurants is highest among Republicans, particularly those who identify with the Tea Party. Republicans oppose prohibiting restaurants from using trans fats by a 60% to 35% margin, and that margin rises to 74% vs. 23% among Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the Tea Party.

Republican opposition is not counterbalanced by comparably strong support for regulation among Democrats. In fact, Democrats are largely divided on the question: 51% favor and 45% oppose prohibiting trans fats in restaurants. Even among liberal Democrats just 47% favor the idea while 50% are opposed.

There is a substantial difference of opinion between women and men: Half of women favor banning trans fats in restaurants compared with just 37% of men.  But there are no significant differences of opinion between younger and older Americans, whites and non-whites, or college grads and those without a college education.

For questionnaire results, click here. Other questions from this survey are held for future release.

Topics: Health

  1. Photo of Michael Dimock

    is Director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

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34 Comments

  1. mythconception5 months ago

    one solution: require nutrition facts by law, and let the consumers decide.

    Reply
  2. Randy5 months ago

    The government should stay OUT of people’s lives. If people want to eat a certain item, it is their choice, not the government. Maybe it should be the other way around. The people vote on the salaries of the politicians. America is out of control. Government telling us what we can eat, what we can drive, what light bulbs we can use. MMMMM, smells like communism, doesn’t it?

    Reply
  3. Bill E.5 months ago

    Why not inform people and let them make their own decisions, rather than seek to have the government micro-manage every aspect of peoples’ lives?

    About thirty years ago, the widespread use of trans-fats was being promoted by some of the same organizations who are not recommending that trans-fats be banned. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, for example: when Burger King began using vegetable shortening (you know, trans-fats), CSPI described it as “a great boon to Americans’ arteries.”

    Our understanding of what is really good for us evolves over time. Aside from the fact that it’s simply wrong for us to seek this much control over others’ lives, it’s also possible that our mandates may actually end up doing more harm than good.

    Reply
  4. Surya6 months ago

    Denmark banned trans fat years ago, and as everyone know, the Danes are a very healthy nation. The trans fat that occurs in food naturally is the only trans fat allowed. Why is it that we American’s choose trans fat when it causes so many health problems?

    Reply
    1. Joel5 months ago

      If you wanted to start a restaurant with some recipes all your friends love, should you have that freedom, or should the government be able to ban the ones that have trans fat? What if some people think some dishes don’t taste as good as the “0 trans fat” version; should they not be allowed to choose to eat at a restaurant with some trans fat? After all the sacrifice made by our soldiers in the past centuries for our freedom, shouldn’t we have the freedom to eat something unhealthy once in a while?

      Even though more oppose the ban, it shocks me that so many Americans would support it. Many seem to think that if a problem exists, the government should be the one to “fix” it, yet that’s actually rarely the case; I say give me freedom, not babysitting.

      Reply
  5. Wes Goodvin6 months ago

    It would be interesting to know why people are opposed. Do they not consider trans-fat to be a health hazard or do they not think it should be regulated by government?

    Reply
  6. Freedom Fred6 months ago

    I don’t need the government to tell me what I am allowed to eat……..they are hypocrits.
    If the government was really serious about our health they would ban the sale of tobacco products in this country…tobacco causes a lot more deaths the trans fats. Oh…but wait, they won’t do that….too much cash back to Uncle Sam involved….

    Reply
    1. @dmstitt6 months ago

      Excellent points!

      Reply
  7. Marlene Case6 months ago

    It is obvious! Who is more concerned with health issues for their families? Women and mothers of course. More men and Republican men in particular are just concerned with the bottom line. It seems as if the Republican and particularly the Tea partiers are mostly concerned with the 1% making profits, at the expense of the health and well being of the rest of us.

    Reply
    1. Randy5 months ago

      Hey, it is fat democrat minorities eating fried foods. Marlene, funny how this is now a republican issue. Blame Bush for fat minorities. And drinking tea is good for you. Maybe you should try some. This is not a dem or repub issue, it is the government sticking their noses in our lifes and homes.

      Reply
  8. Ann6 months ago

    I am amazed that this is “news” in the U.S. The dangers of trans fats became a news item in Canada at least ten years ago.

    Reply
  9. Dave Muckey6 months ago

    I’m pretty sure that ignorance about trans fat is widespread. This could help: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_fat

    Oh, it goes without saying, PORK FAT RULES!

    Reply
    1. DONNA6 months ago

      THANKS DAVE FOR THE LINK. I FAVOR THE BAN FOR RESTAURANTS ,ESP. SINCE SO MANY EAT OUT SO OFTEN . I CRINGE OVER GIVING THE GOV. MORE CONTROL OVER ANYTHING,HOWEVER, THIS ONE IS A WINNER I THINK.

      Reply
  10. pjbnyc6 months ago

    I think Tea Party members should be encouraged to eat as much trans fat as they want.

    Reply
    1. hutlee6 months ago

      I strongly agree. I suppose I should be ashamed, but for some reason, I’m not. I wonder…..

      Reply
  11. Jack Strohbach6 months ago

    Between spying and forcing everyone into one health plan or another, I feel government already has too many things to do. I’d prefer they find some time for border control before monitoring my food intake.

    Reply
  12. Brand6 months ago

    It seems that bipedal omnivores have been consuming trans-fats across the board for some millennia, albeit in not such great quantities as today. There has been no report of corpses littering the streets of Gascony. Eskimos prosper. Eastern Europeans go to the grave in their time spreading goose fat on bread. Ah, Schmaltz,…with or without herring!!
    Requiring trans fat consumers to pay higher insurance premiums might work, but then we would fall heir to FAT POLICE.
    Long live the Donut!!

    Reply
    1. hutlee6 months ago

      Yes! What a terrible thing it is to have one’s government attempting to make one healthy. Why, the nerve of them! Don’t we all know that it’s the American Way to be fat, lethargic, and sick! Being a rotund couch potato is the great American success story. It’s our right to eat ourselves to death. Give me liberty, AND trans fats!

      (Forgive me, I couldn’t help myself! I just had to do the put down. In fact, I can see both sides of the argument. )

      Reply
    2. Marlene Case6 months ago

      There was no such thing as transfats until the junk food people got involved. Ordinary fats contained in real food is not the same.

      Reply
    3. Christophe6 months ago

      It’s clear from some of the comments that people don’t know the difference between saturated (animal) fat and trans-fat (a chemical process whereby vegetable oil is hydrogenated). In the hierarchy of fats, polyunsaturated fats lower cholesterol, saturated fats — the so-called “bad” fat — adds to the cholesterol load in the bloodstream. Incidentally, our livers make cholesterol, so cholestrol, per se is not the issue in a healthy person. The problem with the laboratory-made transfats (hydrogenated oils) is that they interfere with the body’s ability to regulate cholestrol so that the ratio of HDL to LDL is skewed in the direction of driving up LDL (bad cholestrol) . Transfats have been shown to
      markedly increase the risk of coronary artery disease and strokes.

      Between GMOs and transfats, our food supply is being compromised by the “food” industrial complex without our knowledge or consent. We should all at least be educated about these matters, if not outraged.

      Reply
    4. @dmstitt6 months ago

      “for some millenia”? Trans fats are man made, so me thinks you don’t know what you are talking about.

      Reply
  13. Steve Cramer6 months ago

    Thank god we have people smart enough to tell us how to live our lives – amazing the country has lasted as long as it has without the constant intrusion of government in our daily lives. Don’t like Trans Fats – Don’t eat them – that is not all that hard is it?

    Reply
    1. @dmstitt6 months ago

      How do you know when eating out whether or not TRANS FATS are being used in the cooking process?

      Reply
  14. Joe6 months ago

    Personally I think the role of the FDA should be to inform and educate the general population and let people decide for themselves. Labeling should be mandatory by law as that is part of informing and educating.

    Reply
    1. @dmstitt6 months ago

      YES!

      Reply
  15. patrick venton6 months ago

    ignorance toward a subject that has been for a long time promoted as a good thing is a hard nut to crack.

    Reply
    1. Jack Strohbach6 months ago

      Knowledge does not guarantee a solution. How many doctors do you know who still smoke?

      Reply
      1. matt6 months ago

        zero

        Reply
  16. John Wayne Cooper MD6 months ago

    Is this another “sounds like a good idea” that is excused from scientific scrutiny and will be raking in big bucks for an omniscient FDA?

    Reply
  17. Cleora A. Hoekje6 months ago

    As a group women should and usually do know more about health and nutrition than men. It would be expected that restaurant owners would prefer not to take on the extra work and probable expense that dropping trans fat would require. So the breakdown of opinions is logical. However as a woman who has been cooking for a family for over 65 years I find it sad and a little scarey how many young mothers seem to know almost nothing about the subjects. I truly recommend that all women or men who feed people subscribe to the extremely accurate magazine called Nutrition Action put out by the Organization Nutrition For The Public Interest. Many readers will be surprised by what they read.

    Reply
  18. Peter P6 months ago

    I think Republicans, particularly Tea Partiers, should be allowed to consume pure trans fats to their hearts desire.

    Reply
    1. Tom W.6 months ago

      I second that. The motion is passed.

      Reply
      1. Rik Senke6 months ago

        You are really pleasant people. Do you just hate people from the Tea Party or does your hate extend to other groups?

        Reply
    2. Art5 months ago

      I thought these guys would be against banning Trans Fats, not advocating the public to eat them. The trans fat are ust there. If the public don’t want them they can just cook their own food or go somewhere else.

      Reply