The Top 10 Health Stories of 2006
Vaccines, Unsafe Food, Inhaled Insulin: WebMD Picks the Most Important Medical News of the Year
2. War on Trans FatsTrans Fats
Perhaps the biggest health announcement of 2006 was
Described by some nutritionists as a man-made toxin, the fats must be gone
from New York City restaurant fryers by July 2007 and from all restaurant food
by July 2008. At that time, New York will join Tiburon, Calif., as the second
trans-fat-free city in the U.S.
The New York announcement marked the end of a bad year for trans fats. On
Jan. 1, the FDA required all foods to list their
Paradoxically, trans fats -- also known as partially hydrogenated vegetable
oils -- were invented as a healthier alternative to animal fats. Food makers
quickly found that trans fats give fried food a tasty crunch and baked goods a
longer shelf life.
It wasn't long before doctors realized that trans fats might be the
unhealthiest fats of all. Just 2.6 grams a day of. That's about half as much as you
get in a typical serving of french fries.
Trans fats are particularly fattening. There's also a diabetes.
Trans fats not only build up belly fat themselves, but also appear to cause fat
from other parts of your body to move to the belly. Abdominal fat is
particularly dangerous and contributes to heart disease and
Some former culprits -- such as Oreo cookies -- are now trans-fat free.
Fast-food restaurants have been particularly quick to adopt trans fats. But
many major fast-food chains are removing trans fats from their recipes.
- Longhorn Steakhouses uses trans-fat-free frying oil.
- Souper Salad is now trans-fat free.
- Arby's Restaurant Group says it has stopped serving french fries with trans
fat. By May 2007, the restaurant says that three-fourths of its menu will be
, the company announced in November. It expects to
complete the change by April 2007.
, the company announced in October. It expects to complete
the change by the end of April 2007. Biscuits will be the only KFC menu item
that will continue to contain trans fats. Yum! Foods owns both KFC and Taco
- Chili's says it's now using trans-fat-free frying oil.
- Uno's says it has only two dishes that still contain trans fats -- scampi
and a peanut-butter-cup dessert.
- McDonald's said in 2002 it would change to a low-trans-fat cooking oil.
That didn't happen, so a group called BanTransFats.com sued them. In settling
the suit, McDonalds agreed to pay $7 million to the American Heart Association
for trans-fat-reduction programs. Meanwhile, McDonald's has cut trans fats from
its chicken items, lists the trans-fat content of all menu items both on its
web site and in its stores, and says it's still working on a way to reduce
trans fats in other menu items.
- Jason's Deli became trans-fat-free in April 2005.
- Wendy's restaurants have switched to trans-fat-free cooking oil for their
french fries and breaded chicken items. Some of these food items sent to the
chain's restaurants are prefried in oil containing trans fats. Wendy's says
it's working to eliminate trans fat from all its menu items.
Eliminating trans fats will not make fatty foods good for you. Many food
items -- particularly fried foods -- contain unhealthy levels of saturated