On Monday, June 18, the FDA's ban on artificial trans-fats will officially go into effect.

Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., R.D.N. is an assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences and sees patients in clinic for a variety of nutrition-related issues. She is available for phone, live or taped interviews (all times CST) via our news studio.

Here are few thoughts from Dr. Kitchin on the ban:

  • While the trans-fat ban may help lower the risk of heart disease and heart disease deaths, it’s not going to be the magic elixir that will cure heart disease. We need keep stressing the importance of exercise and weight control for heart health, but we do know that trans fats are likely the bad boys of all the fats – so getting rid of them is definitely a plus for human health.
  • The FDA is not really banning trans fats – they are banning partially hydrogenated vegetables – which are the major source of trans fats. Some trans fats are natural parts of foods like butter, meat, and dairy. She says consumer will still see trans fats on the labels, but they are in very small amounts in these foods.
  • In 2006, food producers had to put trans fats on the labels, but there was no percent daily value to show consumers how much was too much because there wasn’t enough data.
  • Many food producers started lowering the trans fats in their foods, so we’ve actually seen a decline in how many of these trans fats we eat over the years. So while I do expect we would see a decline in heart disease deaths from this – it may not be as big as we’d hoped because trans-fat intake has already gone down. How much this further decline will help remains to be seen.
  • Lovers of foods like pre-prepared pies, cakes, cookies, French fries, donuts and microwaved popcorn will see the biggest change in their trans fats intake because they use partially hydrogenated fats in their foods.
  • Could there be unintended consequences? Food producers use trans fats for good reasons – they’re shelf stable and they give us that creamy texture that we like in foods, so what will food producers use in place? Is it back to lard or will they turn to tropical oils, which could increase deforestation and pollution? Will people now think these foods are so much healthier that they can eat them with wild abandon with no thought of calories and saturated fats?