He Took Steroids to Ban Trans-fats

Fate has it that during the week of publication of the latest US study on obesity, which affects around 26% of the population, California is becoming the first state to forbid the use of so-called ‘trans’ fats in all of its 88,000 + restaurants, starting in 2010. Schwarzenegger has supported this initiative, which has already been adopted by such cities as New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

‘Trans’ fats (unsaturated fatty acids following hydrogenation) are found in the butters and oils used in many restaurants, and used especially in the frying of fast food; they are considered to provoke many kinds of cardiovascular diseases by increasing cholesterol levels. According to an article published in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine,’ eliminating trans fats from the diets of North Americans will reduce registered heart attacks by between 6% and 19%.

Obviously, Californian restaurant owners are not keen on the idea of the state’s telling them what ingredients they can and can’t use in their kitchens. These types of oils ensure that food products stay edible for a longer period, and they also make products such as bacon even crunchier.

The proposal only affects restaurants and cafeterias, so the rich fats can still be used in packaged food products. In other words, in California, so-called ‘junk food,’ or trashy food, which many foreigners associated with the ‘American way of life,’ will only be able to be eaten at home.

The debate that continues around these lipids, and which promises to grow in the coming years (especially since California usually marks upcoming trends), will remind many of the argument surrounding tobacco. Up to what point does a state have the right to prohibit practices which happen to be hazardous to one’s health? What should prevail, the individual right to eat crunchier bacon or the right of the state to protect its citizens?

This discussion is old, and the arguments are tired. They are not worth repeating in this blog again. But one can’t deny the irony of Arnold’s being the first governor to make ‘trans’ fats illegal considering the fact that he came to his position thanks to the consumption of another illegal substance – anabolic steroids. Without these drugs, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bulging muscles would never have reached a big enough volume to convert him into Mr. Olympia – a type of cultural, world title – and draw the attention of all those Hollywood producers.

Steroids are prohibited because they can cause health problems, like temporary sterility, liver cancer, and coronary infections, by increasing cholesterol rates. They can even cause heart deformation.

A few spiteful people will view Schwarzenegger’s restriction as an act of hypocrisy, considering he won’t allow his constituents the same liberty he had to consume substances that can harm one’s body.

However, the subject can be approached from a much more positive perspective. ‘The Terminator’ has achieved the supreme ideal for which every politician strives : worrying more over the well being of his citizens than his own. Oh, how good of Arnold, what an admirable unselfish act!

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