Capital Health supports Calgary’s city-wide ban



Marc bence/for metro edmonton


While some fast food chains have already stopped using trans fats in foods like French fries, clinical dietitian Karmin Hovde says they are still found in foods like popcorn and noodles.


« What we’re doing is advocating for the overall reduction of trans fats across Canada. »

As Calgary eateries are feverishly trying to trim trans fats off their menus this week in the wake of a city-wide ban, patrons in Edmonton could have to wait a few more years to see similar regulations placed on the artery-clogging additive.

New health regulations took effect yesterday in the Calgary Health Region where restaurants now have to serve up food with two-per-cent less trans fat.

Eateries in Edmonton, however, could expect to see an overall ban on trans fats in the next two years as part of a national initiative — something Capital Health officials are already lobbying both the provincial and federal governments for, says spokesman Steve Buick.

"What Calgary is doing is just an increment towards the longer term goal of reducing trans fats throughout the food chain," he said.

"We support it and we think it’s a good idea, but we’re not doing something like that right now. What we’re doing is advocating for the overall reduction of trans fats across Canada."

Buick says Capital Health is working to eliminate trans fats at all of its own food services, like hospital cafeterias.

Doctors say trans fats raise the levels of low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol in the body that can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease.

Clinical dietitian Karmin Hovde says manufacturers like to use trans fats because it adds a lot of shelf stability, it’s inexpensive to use and it makes foods taste better.

"In the 1990s, we really didn’t understand the health effects, but now a lot of Canadians are developing heart disease and trans fats can increase that risk," she said.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada chaired a joint task force in June 2006 on the issue of trans fats.

The task force found 22 per cent of the average trans fat intake is provided by foods consumed away from home — mostly from fast-food restaurants.

Hovde says trans fats can be found in foods like donuts, popcorn, fries and other items found in the grocery store.

"That’s why it’s always important to read labels on foods," she said.