Hot Flashes: What's Fat

Kid Porn. That's what you could call a recent Hidden Valley ad proclaiming that the company has discovered four new "fun fla vors" all but guaranteed to seduce heretofore veggie-aversive kids into "enjoying eating salads and vegetables." Sure, load up cedar chips with grease and flavor-enhance- rs and today's tykes will scarf them down. So that's why the Hidden Valley harlots concocted their "Ranch Pizza", "Super Creamy", "Taco", and "Nacho Cheese" dressings--each one packing a monstrous 13-14 grams of fat (about 20-percent of an entire day's fat quota) into two tablespoons. And when was the last time a kid--or anyone--stopped pouring at two tablespoons worth? Kids like candy and peanut butter, too--so if you're going to give in to the little buggers as if they were cats, why not douse their green and yellow leafies with something like "Fresh Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette" or low-fat Ayla's Organics peanuty Spicy Indonesian? Or even--and we're talking last resort here--fat-free hot fudge topping from the nearest TCBY. Fat intake should, since the adoption of the new labeling guidelines, be a snap to regulate, right? Well, yeah. . .sort of. Unlike their all-but-useless predecessor, the new guide lines standardize things like serving size (a "realistic" or "normal" portion under the new umbrella) and fat content percent ages. "Low fat", for example, means three fat grams or less per serving. Simple, it seems. So, how come you can pluck a Lean Cuisine Cheese Cannelloni dinner that's labeled "low fat" off the shelf and find that it contains not three, but eight grams of fat? Because the the new, seemingly foolproof "three-fat gram rule" applies only to individual foods---and the cannelloni is an entree. Get it? Packaged entrees or dinners are allowed three fat grams for every 3.5 ounces of weight (the cannelloni is just under nine ounces)--even though Freddie's frozen food sections are filled with similar-sized meals with one to two grams of fat. And the same dichtomy is true for labels like "low sodium" and "low saturated fat". To cut a path through the improved-but-still-misleading new numbers, call 1-800-242-8721 for a copy of the American Heart Association's How to Read the New Food Label. "Informative labeling". An oxymoron still. Anti-Fat pills are now visible on the far horizon--some that short-circuit fatty-food lust, others that block the absorption of consumed fats, and the third front in the war against obesity, thermogenic agents that rev up fat-cell burning without the nasty side effects of insomnia, nervousness, and gastric distress produced by adrenalinelike drugs. Large-scale clinical trials of drugs with no names, just numbers (BRL 26830A and ICI D7114) are presently underway and, in one Scottish study, subjects on a low-fat, high-fiber diet taking one of the above drugs dropped an average of 34 pounds in 18 weeks--58-percent more weight than those on the same diet who got shafted with a placebo. Given the FDA's time-consuming rules for drug testing, however, expect to wait up to ten years before any of these pound-peeling potions are commercially available. One size fits all might be fine for fashion in the era of the oversized look. But not for condoms. Many condom "failures", reports a study published in the British Medical Journal, occur because the damn thing is too small--or too large--and may slip off during intercourse. Small is worse, researchers say, because guys usually unroll a too-tight tube only part way. What to do? "Shop around", the study says, until you find the brand and size that fits you like, well, a glove. Sure. Like drug stores have size sample racks and dress ing rooms.

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