The soda ban is stupid; the trans fats ban is not

Yesterday, we posted the latest episode of Healthcare Triage, on the relative merits of a ban of 20oz sodas and trans fats. Here are some charts to help make the point.

The first is dinner at Chili’s. You get the Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip (full of veggies!), the Memphis Dry Rub Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries, and a Brownie Sundae for dessert. Oh, and a coke. Here’s how that meal stacks up:


Is there ANYONE who looks at this and thinks that the thing we need to do it remove the soda? Or shrink it by a few calories to make it smaller? The soda ain’t the problem.

Even if you do, a 12oz refillable soda is still legal. Soda purchased by the 2-Liter bottle in stores is still legal. It’s just the soda at places like Chili’s that would be affected. And that’s stupid, especially given that the DAILY recommended calories for a moderately active 40 year old man is represented by that horizontal black line, and this example blows past it in just one meal.

If you want to tackle obesity, try harder.

On the other hand, want to know how much trans fats is in that meal? None. Literally ZERO grams. That’s because they’re so bad for you that most restaurants and food makers have already gotten rid of them voluntarily. The NEJM published a manuscript on trans fats a number of years ago that’s on point. Here’s a good chart:

Trans Fats


Back then, they were hoping to get the number of trans fats consumed reduced by a bit. Of course, a ban actually gets us to the results on the right. Banning trans fats and replacing them with cis unsaturated fats could reduce the proportions of coronary heart disease events by 22%. that would be more than 260,000 events avoided in the US each year.

That would be a major improvement in our health. Soda ban? Not so much.


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