April 22, 2009

News of trans fat harm, short-term effect

News about the harmful effects of trans fat, may influence consumers' purchases of foods containing it, but not for long, U.S. researchers found.

Lead author Jeff Niederdeppe of the University of Wisconsin said that in 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that the amount of trans fat per serving be listed on nutrition labels. Trans fat is found in partially hydrogenated -- partially hardened -- oils and is associated with a substantially increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Niederdeppe examined news effects on the sale of seven brand-specific products that contained trans fat at the time of the study, including buttered popcorn, vegetable shortening, buttermilk biscuits, sandwich cookies, stick margarine, crescent rolls and hot dogs.

The study, published in the the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that for up to one week after the stories appeared, consumer purchases dropped significantly for six out of seven products, with hot dog purchases being the exception. Three weeks later, consumer purchases went back up for half of these products, the study found.