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Americans' Knowledge of Fats Growing But Still Insufficient

DALLAS, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --- A new American Heart Association survey (1) shows consumer awareness of the "bad" fats - trans fat and saturated fat - is at an all-time high. But consumers still need some key information to improve how they eat.

Most Americans Know What - but Not Where - the Bad Fats Are

The survey shows that:

--While 92 percent of consumers are aware of trans fat - a significant

jump from 84 percent in 2006 - only 21 percent can name three food

sources of trans fat on their own.

--And while 93 percent of consumers are aware of saturated fat, only

30 percent can name three food sources of saturated fat on their own.

--But there's good news: Awareness of the link between the bad fats and

increased heart disease risk is up from 63 percent in 2006 to

73 percent in 2007 for trans fat, and from 73 percent to

77 percent for saturated fat.

"We're encouraged to see that consumer awareness of saturated and trans fats is higher than ever and that more people understand the link between these fats and increased heart disease risk," said Robert H. Eckel, M.D., past president of the American Heart Association, chair of its trans fat task force and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center. "But it's clear that consumers need to know which foods contain what fats to minimize both saturated and trans fats and make heart-healthier food choices. Food labels help, but it goes far beyond that in knowing more about the food products without labels we purchase in the grocery or when eating out."

Interest in Healthier Food Choices Is Increasing

Consumers are also taking action more often to eat healthier, particularly as it relates to trans fat. When provided health information in grocery stores or healthier options to order in restaurants, a small but growing number of Americans are more proactive when choosing what to eat:

--More than one-third (37 percent) of Americans say they are buying

foods because the package or label says "zero trans fat," up from

32 percent in 2006.

--When eating in restaurants, half (51 percent) of Americans say they

order a menu item at least some of the time because it's marked

"healthy" in some way.

--And more consumers say they "sometimes," "most of the time" or

"always" request ingredient or nutrition information for menu items

(21 percent in 2007, up from 15 percent in 2006).

Help for Consumers to 'Face the Fats'

To help consumers better understand fats and make heart-healthy choices, the American Heart Association's "Face the Fats" campaign Web site,, features a range of information and tools, including:

--My Fats Translator, an easy-to-use calculator that gives personalized

daily calorie and fat limits, and includes food examples showing how

it's possible to "trade up" to smarter choices in small steps, from

breakfast to eating on-the-go.

--Tips to help consumers "Live Fat-Sensibly," from grocery shopping and

reading food labels to eating out. Consumers can find questions to ask

restaurant servers, learn how to "de-code" descriptions of dishes on

the menu, and find ways to order a healthier meal that's still tasty.

--Sat and Trans, the Bad Fats Brothers, the American Heart Association's

two animated "heartbreaker" characters who personify the bad fats.

A quick glance at Sat and Trans's sample menu of favorite foods, for

example, helps consumers learn where to find saturated and trans fats,

particularly in fast food, diners and other restaurants.

The American Heart Association's trans fat education campaign is funded by a class action lawsuit settlement against McDonald's. The American Heart Association has the sole judgment as to the most effective use of the funds. For more information on the campaign, call the American Heart Association at 1-800-AHA-USA1.

Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. These diseases, America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular diseases claim over 870,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2005-06, the association invested over $543 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

SOURCE American Heart Association
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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