A Boy Writes

Here is an essay that we received from an 11 year-old boy, Douglas Bell. It is a shame that so few adults share his ability to understand the importance of the trans fat issue. He deserves his own page on our website.

Oreos & Trans Fats
by Douglas Bell

Remember when Stephen Joseph tried to ban Oreos from kids? Originally, I thought that he was doing it for no reason, like he didn't like kids or something like that, but he had a really good reason for doing it. He was thinking about trans fats. Trans fat is a dangerous kind of fat that turns into the bad cholesterol, the kind that gives you heart attacks and heart disease. And believe it or not, without knowing it, we eat trans fats most every day!!!

Trans fats give you a double-dose of cholesterol trouble. First, they significantly and seriously lower your HDL (good) cholesterol and significantly and seriously increase LDL (bad) cholesterol. Trans fats also contribute to major clogging of the arteries, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health problems. Trans fat comes from hydrogenation. Hydrogenation, the more common of the two, adds hydrogen gas to vegetable oil, helping to solidify it into products such as margarine. In fact, in comparing margarine with trans fat with real butter, health experts say the process makes them as unhealthy as real butter, if not more so.

With all these considerations about trans fats in mind, how are you supposed to know what to eat and what not to eat? The general rule of thumb: if you see "hydrogenated," or "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients list, don't eat it. Now of course, not everything you find will say this. That doesn't mean it doesn't have trans fat. The first thing to ask is, "If it is able to melt down, does it melt down at least a little bit at room temperature?" Now, if it is a really, really little bit, probably the answer is no. If the answer is no, chances are it's hydrogenated. If the answer is yes, chances are it's not. Another thing to do is ask. Asking usually sends the message saying that you don't want trans fats.

So many of these companies and products have trans fat, so why did Stephen Joseph sue Kraft/Nabisco, the makers of Oreos? Stephen Joseph said that he sued them because they are marketing Oreos to young children. Kraft/Nabisco include "cool things" in packages of Oreos and "cool flavors" to get kids enticed. Kraft/Nabisco recently sent the "Uh-Oh! Oreo" into the market, a sandwich cookie with vanilla wafers and chocolate cream, instead of the classic chocolate wafers and vanilla cream. Also, Kraft/Nabisco's site, which I turned to for information on the product, was entirely a game site. No information what so ever. (You can visit their site at: http://www.nabiscoworld.com ) Stephen Joseph claimed in his press release that he gave up the suit because he could no longer say that no one knew about trans fats in court. Stephen Joseph opened up a website called BanTransFats.com, which has attracted over 100,000 visitors. He includes his press release, wonderful information about trans fats, diabetes, and what not to eat (some things from there included above). He also is giving out t-shirts and bumper stickers saying, "Don't Partially Hydrogenate Me!" and the site's address. You can visit his site at: http://www.bantransfats.com.

Trans fats are really important to watch for. It's hard to tell whether the thing you're holding has trans fat or not. But, the next time you shop, take a close look. You may be lengthening your life.


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