Michele Simon is only partly correct when she writes that our national obsession over trans fat has gotten out of hand (“Problem isn’t trans fat,” March 7 guest column). Eventually, after the present hysteria dies down, Americans will come to understand that trans fat — found most commonly in margarine — isn’t a uniquely grave threat to human health.

What Simon neglects to mention is that all sorts of fringe groups – including her own Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) — are taking the public’s confused overreaction as a cue to redirect our attention to their chosen causes.

In her group’s case, it’s all about scaring us away from meat and dairy foods. PCRM has been exposed in Newsweek and The New York Times as an animal rights group, not a mainstream nutrition organization.

Americans are beginning to exhibit signs of food-scare fatigue, and the current trans-fat mania is just the latest straw. It would be a mistake to trade one needless paranoia for another, especially at the direction of a group of animal-rights zealots.