Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Trans fats, eh?

Trans fat has surpassed carbohydrates as the foodstuff restaurant customers most want to avoid, according to a survey released at an obesity-focused conference yesterday by contract feeder Aramark.

But even more intriguing is what the study says about international differences in health concerns.

According to a report issued in Canada by the Reuters news service, 21% of respondents in an Aramark poll said they were “strongly attempting” to avoid trans fats when they dine out, while only 18% cited the same aversion to carbohydrates.

The drop in concern about carbs is hardly a surprise. The a-ha is the lack of coverage that the study snagged here in the U.S. Sure, it was released at the Vancouver convention of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (we shudder to think of what they might serve at breaks). But that doesn’t seem to explain why the release was covered north of the border, but not here in the States.

The answer might be found in a second study, released two weeks ago in Montreal and covered by the Canadian Press news wire. The report indicated that 62% of Canadians had changed their diets to avoid trans fats, and 53% avowed that they’d stop eating their favorite treat if it contained the artery-clogging fatty acid. Not coincidentally, 80% of the 1,500 respondents in the Leger Marketing survey said they were aware of trans fats and their dangers.

In the safest wager since we plunked down a bundle against the Cubs this year, we’d wager that the percentage might be a tad lower in the U.S. At least until packaged-goods manufacturers start labeling the trans-fat content of their foods after Dec. 31.


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