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California Governor Signs Nation-Leading Trans Fat Bill

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 97 by Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (D-Norwalk), which will phase out the use of trans fats in all California restaurants beginning in 2010 and from all baked goods by 2011.

"California is a leader in promoting health and nutrition, and I am pleased to continue that tradition by being the first state in the nation to phase out trans fats," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "Consuming trans fat is linked to coronary heart disease, and today we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California."

Scientific evidence demonstrates a strong association between the consumption of artificial trans fat and the development of coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as other chronic conditions such as diabetes. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, eliminating artificial trans fats from the food supply could prevent between six and 19 percent of heart attacks and related deaths each year. Coronary heart disease is California's leading cause of death, and AB 97 will be a strong step toward removing this harmful substance from the foods that Californians purchase and consume.

The Governor's leadership has put in place some of the nation's most innovative and successful strategies to promote health and nutrition. The Governor has:

* Established the toughest school nutrition reforms in the nation, taking junk food and sugary sodas off our campuses.

* Banned trans fat and food fried in unhealthy oils in school meals.

* Invested millions of dollars in fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals.

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* Adopted the first-ever physical education standards.

* Convened a Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity where leaders of public and private sector organizations made significant commitments to change core business practices to help achieve a healthier California.

* Reinvigorated the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which focuses on rewarding positive leadership in implementing healthy living in youth.

* Proposed a comprehensive health care reform plan that emphasizes prevention and wellness.

Trans fat is linked to the following health issues:

* Trans fat increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease - the leading cause of death in the U.S. "Like saturated fat, trans fat also raises the low density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol in the blood. But, unlike saturated fat, trans fat lowers high density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol in the blood. An elevated LDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease." (U.S. FDA: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, "Questions and Answers about Trans Fat Nutrition Labeling," Press Release, 1/1/06)

* University of Maryland research suggests that kids who consume trans fats early on will develop heart disease sooner. "Children who start at age three or four eating a steady diet of fast food, pop tarts, commercially prepared fish sticks, stick margarine, cake, candy, cookies and microwave popcorn can be expected to get heart disease earlier than kids who are eating foods without trans fats... Some of our research here at the University of Maryland has shown that kids as young as eight, nine and 10 already have the high cholesterol and blood fats that clog arteries. By starting healthy eating habits early, parents can help their children avoid heart attacks and stroke." (Mary Beth Sodus, "Trans Fats 101," University of Maryland Medical Center)

* According to the American Heart Association, trans fat should make up less than one percent of calories for Americans over two. "Another major change in the dietary recommendations is a lower goal for saturated fat - from less than 10 percent to less than seven percent - and establishing a goal for trans fatty acids of less than one percent of total calories." (American Heart Association, "Association releases new diet and lifestyle recommendations," Press Release, 6/19/06)