Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Subject: Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are produced either by the process of bacterial hydrogenation in the stomachs of ruminant animals, or the commercial method called industrial hydrogenation. The latter began early in the 20th century based on purported health benefits and lowered costs. Alarming results from scientific studies in the early 1990's began to raise questions about whether TFAs should be regulated in our food supply.

Findings/Statistics: Scientific research initially discovered that TFAs raise the LDL/HDL ratio, thereby increasing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Recent large, prospective, population-based studies have indicated a 25% increased risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD) from an increased TFA consumption equaling 2% of total energy intake (or 2E%). Gram for gram, the risk of IHD from TFAs is estimated to be 2.5 to 10 times greater than from saturated fat. More research is needed to support claims the TFAs play harmful roles in poor fetal and infant growth, and in the development of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and allergies. The effects of newly adopted TFA labeling regulations on the steady, average U.S. consumption remains to be seen. Danish regulation of TFAs limits production, and has been associated with a lower national average intake and IHD death rate.

Applications/Conclusions: Considering the indisputable evidence linking TFA intake to IHD risk, the question must be posed whether the U.S. regulations requiring labeling of TFA content are adequate. Special consideration is needed to determine the most effective ways to reduce TFA content in foods as well as the average U.S. consumption.



Faculty Mentor

Marie K. Walsh

Departmental Honors Advisor

Noreen B. Schvaneveldt