Interview with doctor Steen Stender

Tim Hinman: In the beginning of the 00’s Stender was very interested in statistics on heart disease.

Steen Stender: And then I started looking at heart statistics. I looked at where in the world we have the highest heart disease mortality. That is in central Asian countries. The 15 post-Soviet republics. Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan and what they are called.

Tim Hinman: Firstly, Steen had to travel to all the countries with poor heart statistics in order to investigate how much trans-fat was in the food that people were eating. In cahoots with his wife, whom he had brought along, he had to get started on buying a whole lot of cakes in order to find out. However, his work collecting cakes and biscuits in ex-Soviet supermarkets could seem suspect at times.

Steen Stender: There was a guy who received us in the airport and drove us to the hotel. And that was probably some secret police, I would think. We agreed that we would come pick us up the next morning for us to join some sort of tourist programme. We were going to see some horses and we were going to see a shire and so on, and then I said “my favourite interest is supermarkets”. Then we drove to a supermarket. And then I’ll sit here and wait. And then we were in the supermarket for three hous. I found 50, 60, 100 products! And the shelves with cakes they were 10 metres long with five different shelves. I started in one end and in the other end my wife would start with a magnifying glass and a small note that said what hydrogenated fat was called in Russian. Then it took three-four hours to get through such a shelf and we would meet halfway, buy the goods and then we came out with those grocery bags and brought them home. Then we travelled on with our suitcases filled with biscuits and cakes. The results showed that they were brimming with trans fats.