The global anti-trans fat movement is spreading to Korea. The artificial partly hydrogenated oils, which have been linked to an array of cardiovascular diseases, are now banned in New York's fast food restaurants, while India is seeking to insert the warning "not for children" in fast food packaging.
The Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations, in a drive against fast food, has started a campaign to compel manufacturers of fast food and soft drinks to put health warnings on their products just as tobacco and liquor companies do and remove soft drink vending machines from schools.
The Chosun Ilbo polled 189 students between fifth grade and the first year of high school in Seoul on Thursday and found that six out of 10 students have fast food at least once or twice a month. In a separate survey by the KFTA revealed that 45.6 percent of sixth-grade students had fast food once or twice a week.
Experts point the finger of blame at set menus fast food chains offer, which are typically made up of a junk food trio of hamburger, French fries and coke; the fries are particularly high in trans fats. In comparison, the calories of a full traditional Korean meal stand at around 1,000 kcal, while those of a fast food menu amount to well over 1,100 kcal. Obesity in children can lead to early onset of chronic diseases, experts warn.
A 100 g portion of French fries has as much as 4.6 g of trans fats, more than twice the daily trans fat limit the World Health Organization set for adults (2.2 grams). Experts believe consumers will be more careful when the percentage of trans fats is specified on the labels.