Banning Bad Fats?


Well-Known Member
Sep 24, 2006
According to this BBC article, NYC just unanimously passed a citywide ban on artificial trans-fats. Restaurants have until July 2007 to comply with the ban, while baked goods makers have until July 2008 to get their house in order.

I'm all for people getting healthy, but I have a hard time understanding the need to ban something that is only voluntarily consumed, and poses no ill-effects to people who chose to abstain. It's not like people "under the influence" of trans-fats pose a risk to drivers everywhere, and there's no such thing as second-hand trans fats. The only argument I could see for it really, is that maybe 30 years down the road Medicare won't be paying out as much for cholesterol related illnesses, but even that's a stretch since only 20% of cholesterol comes from diet.

Anyone else find this ridiculous? Anyone think its the greatest thing since sliced bread and wanna argue for awhile?

Protectionists at it again...

These guys want to control everything you do, and if people turn a blind eye then very soon we will be in a state where we are all the same forced to do the same meanial action every day.

If I want to get fat then I should.

If I want to shoot myself then I should be able to.

If I want to drive without a seatbelt then I should

It's my body, not their's. This isn't state slavery here.
I don't know what to think. In all honesty, not everybody would be happy either way. Really, though...why can't restaurants take the iniatiative in their own time? Many are already, it's just a simple switch of frying oils.
The measure in itself may be misdirected. However, I am of the view that given that complete autonomy is an illusory state, that people in many ways cannot be trusted to run their own matters upon themselves (in this case restaurants cannot be trusted to make the switch) and this is why laws are passed: as a pragmatic consideration. As such I've taken to thinking that democracy should officially (as opposed to the state it's currently in) take a back seat for a while while people who are intellectually capable of running a country shake the system up and see if they can make it any less broken.

Thus the criticism that "if I want to get fat then I should" is not sufficient- in many cases it is people who are getting fat not by their own will that would hypothetically benefit from this measure (though that's pretty questionable). Just as autonomy should not be presumed, we cannot assume that everybody makes informed decisions about anything.

Think of another example here: smoking.
I do find the fact that they're regulating it almost absurdly funny. Does that mean that grocery stores are no longer going to be able to sell ANYTHING with transfat in them? That's going to be some mighty angry people in NYC. Just imagine, people driving out in mass exodus to get a twinkie in New Jersey! Talk about fodder for the parody people. Weird Al, are you listening?!
I don't get it at all. I understand where you are coming from when you say that you cannot trust them when they say they are not using it but how is this law going to help that? I mean as a customer I will not know for sure that they have stopped using it. I just think that there are other things to worry about at the moment.
I couldn't agree more with Reason's statement.

When are people going to realize that freedom is allowing people to make their own choices in life, good or bad!

I'm not following your connection between trans-fats and ditching democracy. No matter how the decision was made, it serves to restrict personal choice with no communal benefit. Laws should serve some communal benefit and avoid restricting personal choice. This law does neither. A program that informed people of the dangers associated with trans-fats would probably be more appropriate, to your point about people making informed decisions. If its important inform them, but its not necessary to restrict their choice. If I want to harm myself, either through ignorance or some intentional reason I should be able to do so. <as long as I am not creating a burden for the state>
Yeah, I wasn't commenting specifically on the trans-fats ban as I hastily dismissed it saying it could be misdirected. I then went onto a generalised tangent as I knew what Brandon was going to say about restricting personal reasons etc. and so I wanted to get the other word in first :p

I agree- information dissemination is probably a more proper way to do things but I am now calling into question their effectiveness as people seem to be less and less likely to listen, especially as we are drowned in a flood of contradictory and ambiguous information. It is possible that this perception is an over-reaction, however.

So to clarify: if one wants to get fat, then technically one can get fat. However! what I'd like is for people to think about reasonable limits to "freedom" or seemingly "acting selfishly on a whim" in the context of cohabitation. While our values that generally disapprove of "being fat" may be manifested in all kinds of warped ways, we cannot disregard the empirical evidence that recommends that we at least try to adopt lifestyles that help not only us but also those around us.

I am not actually suggesting any concrete conclusions here- this example in itself is horridly complex and I am incapable of unravelling it alone, but I am under the impression that even such a simple rationale for civil liberties like Milton's Self-Harm principle (as long as you aren't harming others you can do whatever you like) are not properly considered in a clamor that such and such a rule "destroys our liberties", as I assert that certain cases of self-harm do entail burdens on other people and ultimately the state.

Bottom line: for practical reasons, we ought to try to maintain states where everybody makes informed and optimal decisions. Restriction of freedoms is not the answer but simply giving information isn't either. Perhaps one ought to examine the education system but this too is a difficult endeavour for other reasons.
In the end I cannot still wrap my mind around the fact that there needs to be a law that prohibits using transfats. But what happens if someone doesn't like sugar? I mean not to belittle the fact that transfats are bad for you but so is sugar and I don't see anyone saying we shouldn't use that in our food when we eat out. I don't know maybe I am just looking at this issue all wrong?
Oh yeah, I wasn't clear enough:

This law is probably one of those where I say "we do need to do something about it but this isn't quite what we want to get at." As in because the current circumstances and system leaves obesity almost strictly as a self-exacerbating phenomenon, we need to start thinking about more global measures for it. But not necessarily banning trans-fats in such a manner...the collateral is too high for too little an effect.
I tend to agree. Last time I checked, nobody forces me to eat anything I should not. I manage to do that all by myself.
On the other hand (to the argument I've been supplying): you might be able to draw some parallels between this and, slippery-slope arguments notwithstanding, the US war on drugs + the justice system.
It's sad, but I knew crap like this was going to come about eventually. It's the next logical step on the road of where this country is headed.