Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How Many Died?

At the same time, scientists at the University of Maryland were finishing up some intensive research on the impact of trans fats on heart disease.  Their findings appeared so incriminating for the lab-created substance that it spurred the USDA to run an analysis of the margarines currently on the market, testing them for their trans fats levels - an endeavor other researchers across the globe were also gaining interest in at the time.

The results were grim.  It turned out that the margarine market was a virtual sea of transfats, with nearly every brand, both regular and those promoted for health, containing disturbingly high levels.  According to Light, the head of the USDA's fats lane-who'd spearheaded the analysis-had attempted to spread the findings to other scientists and the public, only to have his efforts thwarted by the steely fist of the USDA.  As she described the sorry scene:
“The head of the fats lab told me that when he attempted to publish a paper with his findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal .. [the] USDA suppressed it, refusing to allow the information to be published.  This eminent, world-renowned scientist told me, with tears in his eyes, that in his twenty=year career in research, he had never been confronted with such blatant political interference in science.

As disturbing as that interference was, it was hardly surprising.  Partially hydrogenated oils were a sacred cow for food manufacturers:  they were cheaper than animal fats, had a gloriously high melting point, prolonged the shelf life of whatever they touched, and provided just the right consistency to make foods profitably addictive.  That Father USDA had rushed in to protect the food industries favorite commodity wasn’t anything new-just business as usual.  Denise Minger, "Death By Food Pyramid"

From the first strong evidence of the negative impact of trans-fat until the government finally started warning us about same - took 16 years.  In the mean time, the government was steering folks towards margarines with vegetables oils, meaning they were pointing us at the substances laden with trans fats.  Thanks, USDA.

The book's title is: "

How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health"

It is not an exaggeration.  That more folks are not angry is testament to many things.  Our faith in government and our unwillingness to examine the ways government is killing us, the paucity of good science with regards to human health, and our desperation to believe experts - who will tell us anything that makes them feel better.

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