ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
FITNESS
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful

MONDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- When the New York City Health Department mandated that city restaurants change their menus to restrict trans fats, known to be a health hazard, the action was greeted with resistance and grumbling.

"There were the usual 'nanny state' comments," said Dr. Lynn Silver, assistant commissioner of the department's Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control.

Initially, the campaign was voluntary, Silver said. "But after one year, there was no change," she said, so public health officials decided to make the ban mandatory.

In December 2006, the city required that artificial trans fats be phased out of restaurant food, and the mandate was in full effect by November 2008. Silver and colleagues from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene report on the effort in the July 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

And they deem it a success. Total saturated fat and trans fat in French fries, for instance, decreased by more than 50 percent in New York City restaurants, according to the report. Overall, the health officials found, the use of trans fats for frying, baking or cooking and in spreads declined from 50 percent to less than 2 percent.

Consumers didn't seem to mind. "It became clear that trans fats were being successfully replaced, and no one noticed the difference," Silver said. "Foods tasted just as good, and diners are healthier."

Trans fats were often used, she said, because they last longer than traditional vegetable oil, but "there was nothing terribly delicious about trans fat."

Trans fats, also call partially hydrogenated oils, are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. The fats are commonly found in French fries, doughnuts and baked goods, as well as margarine and shortening.

The problem with trans fats, Silver and her colleagues wrote in their report, is that increasing intake by just 2 percent can increase the risk for a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem by as much as 23 percent. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels.

Restaurants' fears that diners would protest or the ban would affect business didn't happen, Silver said, and the good news for restaurant patrons is that they don't have to guess about what they're eating as much as they once did.

Silver said the idea seems to be catching on, too. At least 13 jurisdictions, including California, have adopted similar laws since New York's took effect, she said.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted in an editorial accompanying the report that Tiburon, a small community north of San Francisco, actually restricted trans fats in its 18 restaurants as early as 2003.

"The scientific rationale for eliminating exposure to artificial trans fatty acids in foods is rock solid," she wrote. Not only do they not have health benefits, but they are harmful, she said.

Though some experts have called for federal intervention to restrict trans fats, Gerberding said that idea "seems premature," but she doesn't rule it out for the future. Among other actions, she said, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could enhance educational efforts to inform consumers about the risk.

Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and a past president of the American Dietetic Association, said that banning fats is not enough.

"While mandatory elimination of trans fats can help reduce intake, consumer understanding about healthy food choices is essential," Diekman said. Healthful eating is a joint responsibility, she said, shared by food processors, providers, health-care professionals and consumers.

Silver took it a step further. She compared the trans fat restriction to an earlier public health decision to remove lead from paint, now known to be a health hazard, especially for children.

And once those health risks were known, she said, "you really wouldn't ask a parent to choose a paint with lead or without."

SOURCES: Lynn Silver, M.D., M.P.H., assistant commissioner, Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Department of Health, New York City; Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., director, university nutrition, Washington University in St. Louis; July 21, 2009, Annals of Internal Medicine