I find the N. Y. Times to be quite liberal—but that’s not news. I do admire, however, their excellent writing on health, especially nutrition. Two recent articles deserve comment because they touch on heroes making a difference in America’s food reformation. The first is a scientist, the second a businessman-politician. First the scientist, Dr. Fred Kummerow:
Earlier this year, in the well-named post Death By Trans Fats, I noted decades of work by two scientists, Mary Enig and Fred Kummerow, in fighting the worst product of Food Inc by exposing the danger of factory hydrogenated trans fats. In his most recent act, Dr. Kummerow in 2009 demanded of the FDA that trans fats be banned from food. Four years went by with no action but last month FDA requested comments (a formal step before taking action) on moving trans fats from the GRAS (meaning generally regarded as safe) list. If approved, this would effectively remove trans fats from our diet as food containing non-GRAS ingredients must be proven safe by testing. So it’s a big deal that Food Inc will fight but we must support.
This will be a critical battle. Dr. Willet of Harvard notably estimated that 100,000 premature deaths occur each year due to trans fats in our diet. If the trans fats GRAS fight is won, then the next big FDA battle is to require labeling of foods that are GMO. You can read more of the N. Y. Times story “A Lifelong Fight Against Trans Fats". Dr. Fred Kummerow, 95 years old and still fighting, is a true hero.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
So New York is electing a new mayor but we should stop to point out the remarkable increase in longevity—now two years longer than the American average—of New Yorkers. A recent N.Y. Times article reviewed the factors noting that such an improvement has only been seen since the sanitary innovations (sewer and clean water systems) a century or more ago. So what caused this? Credit much of it to the administration of Mayor Bloomberg and his health initiatives. Here are the findings of the cited study:
- One third of the improvement came from the decline of both AIDS mortality and homicides.
- A drop in drug- and alcohol-related deaths accounted for another 15%.
- Smoking-related deaths dropped by 5%. New York was one of the first cities to ban smoking in public places.
- A factor that couldn’t be fully measured was the ban of trans fats in restaurants. Another ban that should help—held up by court challenges—is against large servings of soda drinks.
- The last factor was the rise in immigrant population. Immigrants grew up eating real food generally—the modern American diet (MAD) is new to them. So this gives them a longevity advantage. Their children and grandchildren, unfortunately, will eat the MAD diet and lose this advantage.
Bottom line: New Yorkers seem to be figuring out Word of Wisdom Living.
It’s nice to hear some good news during the Christmas Season from the heroes among us. Merry Christmas to all.