Archived: Healthy Eating: A Different Approach to National Health Reform


As the debate on how to develop and institute national healthcare coverage continues in Washington D.C., California has begun a movement to help its citizens mitigate future health concerns.  The passage of the landmark health bill AB 97 in 2008, made California the first state in the nation to recognize the health risks posed by Trans Fat oils and the first state to ban the use of the oil in food preparation in restaurants, cafeterias and bakeries beginning January 1, 2010.

As the author of the bill, I recognized and became concerned with the unhealthy eating habits of the children I was teaching as a fourth grade teacher in East Los Angeles.  National data indicated that childhood obesity and the onset of Type II Diabetes among school aged children was on the rise.

Once in the Assembly, I became aware that foods prepared in Trans Fat oils were shown to accelerate Type II Diabetes, were a cause of heart disease and strokes.  With over 88,000 restaurants, including fast food, in California a majority were using Trans Fats in their food preparation.

AB 97 was written to help protect consumers from an unhealthy ingredient that has the potential to deteriorate their living condition and is easily replaceable by healthier forms of cooking oils.

As a nation we have struggled to deal with over-eating and unhealthy eating, which has lead to a rise in heart, artery and diabetic conditions. The issue of health is more than a personal concern, it also affects businesses.

As a direct result of an unhealthy lifestyle, businesses lose productivity when employee’s suffering with health issues miss work and cause health premiums to rise.

One step in the right direction is in simple preventative maintenance. In addition to exercising a minimum of 30 minutes each day, healthy eating is a partner in the fight against health risks.

Removing Trans Fats is one remedy to improving healthy eating without a noticeable change in the taste or texture of food items the consumer purchases at restaurants.  AB 97 removes the risk and provides piece of mind to Californians and to visitors who will know that the food prepared for them is among the healthiest in the nation.

Assemblymember Mendoza is a former teacher who serves the communities of Artesia, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, Cerritos, Buena Park, Hawaiian Gardens, East Whittier, Lakewood and Los Nietos.

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