Banning trans fats could prevent 7,000 heart deaths

Close up of a plate of chips

A total ban of trans fats in processed foods could prevent or postpone more than 7,000 deaths from coronary heart disease over the next five years, say researchers at the University of Liverpool.

Trans fats (trans fatty acids) are a type of unsaturated fats that are uncommon in nature but during the 20th century became commonly produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food.

A team of researchers from the Institute of Psychology, Health & Society, Professor Simon Capewell, Dr Kirk Allen and Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, evaluated three policy options to reduce consumption of trans fats in England: a total ban on trans fats in all processed foods; or better food labelling; or a ban on trans fats just in restaurants and takeaways.

Technically feasible

Professor Simon Capewell, said: “There should be no place in our society for trans fats and a total ban would clearly improve the health of the nation.”

“Elimination of trans fats from processed foods is an eminently achievable target for policy makers. It should be pursued rigorously.”

They calculated the health  benefits and cost effectiveness of each policy compared with things remaining as they are. Influential factors such as age, sex, and socioeconomic status were taken into account in their computer modelling.

They concluded that a “total ban” in England is “technically feasible” and have called for “decisive action” to prioritise the most effective and cost effective policy options.

More information about the study can be found on the British Medical Journal website.

Close up of plate of chips

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