Trans-fats refer to unsaturated fat. These are partially hydrogenated fat molecules. They contain one or more double bonds of atoms of carbons. Trans fats are also referred to as trans fatty acids and are created in an industrial process where hydrogen is added to vegetable oils to solidify them. These kinds of fats are mainly found in fast foods and sometimes in animal products. The obsession of most Americans to fatty foods makes the issue to be a social issue. Mention the name fast food among the Americans; you will realize that to many Americans, fast foods are a staple in their diet. If not controlled fast foods and trans-fats id general may cause more harm than benefits to the lives of many Americans.
Why fast foods
To many Americans, fast food provides their only satisfaction in lives. They prefer fast food due to the fact they are easy to make, are tasty, and that they are readily available in restaurants everywhere. According to the Newshour Extra magazine, fast foods are a staple in the diets of most Americans. Vending machines full of fast foods are common features in most schools in America (Golanty & Edlin 233). 14 years led Sarah Hudson tells the Newshour Extra magazine that if companies produced healthy foods, no one would buy due to the presence of the fast foods. She continues that no one can get the time to think of what to eat when fast foods are there waiting for you. This simply cannot work. A study shows that on the average American usually takes at least two hamburgers every week (Shield & Mullen 130).
Trans fats have been associated with the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases and there are many evidence-based outcomes that confirm these conclusions. The United States suffers the largest percentage of heart disease cases in the world. Of all the cardiovascular diseases, heart disease highly leads in causing deaths in the US and it has also been linked to very high risk of developing arrhythmias or even disability from it. Other diseases that are closely linked to the occurrence of heart diseases include coronary heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, arterial diseases and congestive heart disease (Golanty & Edlin 233). On the whole, cardiovascular disease cause the largest number of death even more than the combined figure from accidents, cancers and HIV/AIDS. Accordingly, NCHS has revealed that, at birth, Americans have a 47 percent probability of developing and dying from illnesses that are related to cardiovascular diseases. Nonetheless, regardless of the risky and fatal implications, cardiovascular diseases and other related illnesses still have very alarming prevalence in America and continue being the deadliest underlying reasons for largest percentage of deaths among Americans (Binkley et al 1035).
Despite the type of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD), be it stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure or hypertension, the diseases affect everybody ion America regardless of the age (Schlosser 76). Though specific results from various researches vary according to gender, race, and ethnicity, this does not necessarily mean that one group has low mortality rates from the disease. These deaths rates are so devastating among all groups of people. For instance, on gender basis, many men die compared to women from heart disease though CVDF is still linked with one death per minute among women (Golanty & Edlin 233).
On the other hand, even scarier is the fact that these deaths are very premature. Currently, the live expectancy of American averages at 77.9 years. Heart attack greatly decreases this by about 15b years since there is a projection of 1.2 million every year, the reduction of life that is linked to CVD usually has an impact on the overall American lifespan (Binkley et al 1035).
The good news is that CVD are by and large preventable conditions. Though there are several factors that pose the risk of susceptibility and fatality from CVDs, many of them are controllable. Though other factors including age, gender and genetics are not controllable, other factors can be modified by adopting a better living and healthy eating (Golanty & Edlin 233). These can hence greatly reduce occurrence of obesity, hypertension and physical inactivity. There is an estimated rate of 32.4% of American who are inactive at 20 years and above.
Even though the risk factors independently impact on possibilities of developing CVD and subsequently dying from it, CDC normally singles out elevated levels of Blood cholesterol and the occurrence of high blood pressure(Schlosser 76). Moreover, studies indicate that when blood cholesterol is lowered and hypertension reduced, then the risk of death from CVD also reduces considerably at a point rate of 12 to 13 reducing occurrence rates of heart disease by 21%. Cholesterol reduction of 10% translates to reduce risk of CHD by 30%. Individual choices concerning what to eat, when to exercise and lifestyle basically impacts on the health of an individual in a positive or negative way; As such, cardiovascular imposes considerable social repercussions as well as economic losses for the entire society(Binkley et al 1035). For instance, the government expenditure on medication is likely to increase though the victims will be the ones spending more on their personal health like on home care or hospitalization(Schlosser 79). There will be reduced productivity which will impact on overall economy when people are sick or die from such health problems. Several individual suffering from CVD implies that a pandemic has developed and the implications would be staggering high for the entire American population.
Why Social Concern
The existing hysteria concerning trans-fats was stimulated by researchers in 1950s by manufacturers concerning the cooking oils and the production of hydrogenated fat. This stemmed from the fact that doctors were suggesting reduction of consumption of cholesterol particularly the low-density lipoproteins otherwise commonly referred to as the LDL cholesterol since it was highly associated with occurrence of heat diseases(Schlosser 79). Trans-fats contain mainly the bad type of fat that is, the LDL cholesterol and very little HDL’s. The dangers of trans-fats therefore become twofold by this virtue. Though fast foods carries a number of good thing themselves such as being tasty, easily available et cetera, their effects on the human health makes them a concern for the society (Binkley et al 1035). They carry with themselves diverse effects on the health of the consumers. To start with, fast foods and Trans fats specifically increase the risks of contracting cardiovascular disease (Golanty & Edlin 338). Though trans-fats are found naturally in human bodies and other sources, the dangerous trans-fats are manufactured specifically for food production. During the process of industrial manufacture of such foods, hydrogen molecules are added to the fluid hydrocarbon chains make the oil molecules stable thus the name hydrogenation. This way, these fats can maintain their form for longer sine the oily fast would be solidified. Thus they can be used on various types of food stuffs that can stay for long on store shelve for instance Crisco and cookies (Binkley et al 1038). This artificially manufacturer trans -fat has grown to become very dominant in American diets due to the fact that it enhance flavor stability, acts as a preservative for the food stuffs, enhances good texture and lasts longer on shelves. As a consequence a vast food stuffs now use trans-fat in preparation of food(Schlosser 79). A lot of American food stuff including piers, pizzas, hamburger, candy chocolate, fries and cakes are prepared by trans-fats.
The 2006 estimates revealed that an average consumption of trans-fat among American adults was 5.8 grams on average and this has increased since then by about 50%. A greater percentage of American food stuffs are from processed food stuffs and only 21% is from ruminant animal sources. Foods that are prepared by restaurants are even worse as they carry the most trans-fats. For instance the most popular food outlets like the McDonalds, the fries contain over 23% of trans-fats. This trans-fat content is of special concern for the American since nations surveys revealed that Americans eat out a lot and very often consume food stuffs prepared out of homes.
Fast food meals are very popular because they are too appetizing to resist, they are cheap, they are readily available, they are convenient and they are very fast. According to research, eating only two fast food meals per week can very destructive. This is because they risk of getting obese is increased by 50%. For instance a breakfast meal with fries, nuggets, burgers can greatly elevate the risk as these foods contain high levels of sugar, refined floor, salt (sodium) and oils. This combination in itself is a health hazard.
Other studies have found that though fast foods are convenient and readily accessible, though they present very low nutritional value(Stender 1650). This is because the carbohydrates in these foods are of low quality, like the white bread; they contain low levels of highly saturated fats which causes the LDL’s or bad cholesterol in the body to increase and this is risk a factor for hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders(Binkley et al 1039). The fast food meals have very concentrated caloric density and this means that when taking a meal, the body cannot register when it is enough an as a result, more food is consumed and this translates to weight gain.
Trans-fat is bad for Health
Cardiovascular illnesses cause malfunctioning off the heart, the veins and the arteries that are useful in transporting oxygen to organs of the body such as the brain. It is estimated that per year ten billion dollars are used to perform angiograms, bypass surgery and other heart treatment (Hu & Willett 2569). These are cost are too heavy to be incurred by the governments and society for problems that can be prevented by healthy eating. Scientific studies have proved the effects that poor diets do have, not only on causing, but also on healing damages caused to the cardiovascular body system (McDougall 1509).
Fast food and Trans-fat in particular are known to increased age of aging process (O’Keefe &O’Keefe 98). Components of Trans-fats such as calories increase free radical production which results to reduced stress resistance. This means that people, who are used to eating fast foods or generally large amounts of trans-fats, are likely to be affected by stress as well as reduced immunity. This increases the number of potential diseases that may affect us (Hu & Willett 2569). Eventually the aging rate increases. With old age comes low labor productivity as well as increased dependency rate. These issues lag the society behind and therefore should be well addressed by the society as a whole.
Another effect of Trans-fats and fast foods is the genes pattern. Researchers have found a strong relationship between these eating diet and the genes patterns of human beings who are frequent users of these diets (McDougall 1509). Poor gene pattern especially the mammary gene has been found to occur among people who use food with high contents of trams fats.
Apart from this the most common effects of fast foods and Trans-fat is obesity. Fast foods can cause abnormal increase in body mass and body weight. This too also comes with the problem of low labor productivity. Low productivity as economists would say is a cost to be incurred by the society (McDougall 1509). Costs in terms of resources used to develop talents as well as to impute skills that are never utilized due to problems of obesity. Typical fast food meals like cakes, cookies and hamburgers have been found to have high refined starch and a lot of sugars implying that when consumed they cause the blood sugar to significantly increase (Hu & Willett 2572). This is what is described as glycemic index which is basically the increase in the blood glucose levels that results from consumption of a meal rich in carbohydrates. In health sciences, high levels of sugar stimulate the body to release insulin, insulin is a hormone that helps to utilize excess glucose and as a result one is likely to gain more weight (Choi 508). Other studies have also shown that when the glycemic load of an individual is increased, the person will tend to eat more and the outcome of this is seen in the weight gain. In order to cut down the probability of becoming obese, the Americans should be taught and encouraged to eat less fast food meals rather they should be encouraged to eat foods that are rich in fibers like grains, vegetables, adequate proteins, olive oils, avocados and nuts(Hu & Willett 2572). Such food stuff have low glycemic index, are less refined and are very healthy.
Obesity is also a risk factor of a number of life threatening medical illnesses and hence it should be handled carefully. These conditions include, heart problems, diabetes, sleep disorders, cancer and high blood pressure among others. Anorexia (eating disorders) and asthma are also linked to LDLs (Stender 1651). Several studies have proved that overweight children are more likely to remain overweight even in adulthood and also that childhood obesity shows a positive correlation with motility rates in adulthood (Hu & Willett 2572). Experts have found out that people who ate fast foods gained at least ten pounds in one year compared to those who did not and that this enormous weight gain also increased the probability of developing insulin disorder and this could be the main cause of diabetes type two in patients who presented childhood obesity (McDougall 1509).
Basically, there are no additional health benefits that are obtained from then consumption of foods with trans-fats. As identified earlier, trans-fats are in fact directly correlated with increased CVD risk of occurrence. There are two main preventable risk factors behind occurrence of heart disease in American population: increased LDL and decreased HDLs(Choi 508). Compelling evidence comes from the fact that food stuffs that contain trans-fat pose a risk or developing CVD.
Trans-fat is and indication of the present of high cholesterol levels. This cholesterol damages the arteries and the lining of the vessels is destroying resulting in hardening of the vessels. Their elasticity is thus adversely interrupted. Since the arteries are very important in regulations of blood pressure, increased resistance due to hardening increased resistances and consequently the blood pressure needed to push the blood through these vessels (Hu & Willett 2572). This impairment damages the vital function of the heart and the vessels. Hypertension is an effect of frequent use of Trans-fats and in large quantities. Hypertension or high blood pressure is very chronic condition that involves elevation of blood pressure in the arteries. Continuous hypertension according to scientists can also cause strokes or even heart failure. It may sometimes to miscarriage among pregnant women (McDougall 1509).
It’s important to note that high cholesterol in itself does not necessarily means that heart diseases will develop, though it can show that there is a presence of heart disease since the heart problems could be as a result of other causes. Trans-fats cause damage to the heart and the cardiovascular systems ion the following means; also called polyunsaturated fats, the have been linked with damaging of the artery walls and leading to abnormal blood vessels that are plaque-damaged and cannot stretch to dilate and allow easy blood flow (Hu & Willett 2572). Trans-fats also encourage inflammation, and this is damaging to the artery was as well. The same inflammation subsequently causes rapture of the blood vessels as the pressure builds up. Rapture lead to clots as a result of internal bleeding. This is a serious case since it is mainly the real cause of the deaths. There are approximately over one million people in America that suffers effects of heart attack every year (McDougall 1509). About half of them end up dying due to the attack. The condition is characterized by a blockade of the blood supply to the heart muscles. These vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the heart could be blocked by a blood clot in what is called coronary occlusion from the name coronary vessels (Choi 508). These are blood vessels that vascularize the heart. When this happens, the active heart muscles that are constantly pumping blood are deprived of oxygen. This results in very serious injury to the muscles since they require a lot of oxygen for their function. Its been determined that if normal flow is not restored in a span of twenty to forty minutes, then the deprived muscles suffer irreversible death due to the ischemia(Dariush 1601). The death can take place for about 6-8 hour to end after which a scar develops at the affected spot on the heart (McDougall 1509).
Trans-fat hinders the body from utilizing Omega 3 or even its production. The EPA and DHA are very essential in safeguarding the body against developing heart disease. Contrary, saturated fats usually assist the body in producing Omega 3 (very important fatty acids) (Hu & Willett 2572).
There is also as strong connection between trans-fats and diabetes. High blood cholesterol is evident in cases of heart disease as a risk factor. On the other hand, people who are suffering from diabetes also pose a great risk of developing heart disease. It is always advanced to take leas than 7% calories in a day of saturated fats (Choi 508). This nutrition guideline is never observed in the US as many people just eat a lot of food stuffs in restaurants and cafés where a meal has about 15 grams of saturated fats and so on (Dariush 1601). Trans-fat causes cholesterol levels to increase and in fact it’s much worse than consuming saturated fats for a healthy heart diet.
When a person has diabetes, the likelihood of developing heart disease is twice as much as that of normal people. They can suffer a stroke or heart disease at earlier age compared to normal individuals. A middle aged person with the type II diabetes has a risk of developing heart attack just like a person who has once suffered a heart attack without diabetes (Stender 1654). Diabetes patients who have already suffered at least one heart attack pose even greater risk of suffering a second attack. The heart attacks of diabetes are so grave that they create a very likelihood of dying. The increased blood sugar levels on the other hand increased deposition of fatty acids on the inside of blood vessels (Dariush 1601). These deposits are a health hazard as they affect the free flow of blood and this increases the probability of these vessels to clog and harden.
Decreasing the Risk
Human health is very important and this therefore means that American should be able to adopt better lifestyles and eating habits that are considered with good health. The major step to take under management of the condition is to change the eating habits and increase the level of physical activities participation. In some adverse conditions the victims may be forced to undergo treatment by medication or surgery to reduce the weight. This can be done by reducing the adverse impact that trans-fats have on lives. Start by ensuring that they observe the dietary guide provides by Americas healthy eating guide (McDougall 1509). These advices on how to choose lean meat and food stuff that have very low fats. When making purchases, it is also advisable to observe the labels on the packaging cases. The nutrition facts are verity important and will inform you the food when it has trans-fats. Eat out less, do not consume fried foods often or use healthier oils (Bryan 1509).
For over 50 years, Trans-fats have been used for preparation of food in America to enhance its texture, taste and the quality. Researchers discovered that the fats had very negative consequences on the health of individuals. However despite the disclosure, food companies and restaurants still produced and prepared food by use of these trans-fats. However, as customers become more aware and cautious of their health. The FDA was prompted to make it mandatory for food companies to indicate the contents of the food. There is increased campaign today including food companies teaching people on healthy eating.
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