Researchers Say Banning Trans Fats Would Save Thousands of Lives
Academics from Oxford, Liverpool and Lancaster universities say that a total ban on trans fats in the UK could save thousands of lives.
Artificial trans fats – a group of fatty acids produced from plant oils – are commonly used to improve the taste, texture and shelf-life of processed foods. However, they have been strongly linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Currently, there is no legal requirement for food manufacturers to remove trans fats from foods or even to label trans fats on those foods. Some manufacturers have pledged to work towards removing trans fats as part of a “responsibility deal” with the Government, but they are still present in many processed foods.
The new study’s authors say that this responsibility deal is not enough, and that if trans fats were entirely banned, it could prevent or postpone 7,200 deaths from coronary heart disease in the next five years. Their research also suggests that improved labelling of trans fats, and removal of them from restaurants/fast food alone, could save between 1,800 and 3,500 deaths from heart disease.
The study authors concluded: “A regulatory policy to eliminate trans fatty acids from processed foods in England would be the most effective and equitable policy option. Simply continuing to rely on industry to voluntarily reformulate products, however, could have negative health and economic outcomes.”
The researchers also estimate that banning trans fats could even save the economy £64million in health costs.
“The bottom line from this study is that a ban on trans fats would save a significant number of lives (in the thousands, not hundreds) and actually save the public money,” says Dr Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield. “This does not even account for the emotional costs to patients and families who have suffered the effects of heart disease.”[poll id=”3″]