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Call to ban trans fats to cut heart attacks

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A team of health experts has said thousands of lives could be saved and heart attacks prevented by banning trans fats in the UK.

Trans fats, also known as fatty acids, are chemically altered vegetable oils which prolong the shelf life of many foods. The group said trans fats add no nutritional value.

Foods such as cakes, pastries, pies, chips and fast foods all contain trans fat.

In a report published in the BMJ, the team from Harvard Medical School called on the UK to follow a number of other countries and other jurisdictions and ban the fatty acids.

In Europe, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria have already banned them, while in the US, trans fats are banned in New York and California.

The report said trans fats increase levels of bad cholesterol and are also linked with weight gain, diabetes and an irregular heartbeat.

Eating trans fats is linked to a “substantial risk of heart disease events”, including heart attacks and death from coronary disease, the team added.

“This risk is far higher per calorie consumed than for any other dietary macronutrient, including saturated fat,” said the experts, from Harvard in Boston in the US.

In developed nations, the average population consumption of trans fats is often 2% to 4% of total calorie intake. But some lower income groups may be eating as much as 8%.

The authors predicted that cutting overall consumption of trans fats in England by just 1% would lead to 11,000 fewer heart attacks each year and 7,000 fewer deaths.

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • Trans fats are not only chemically modified, but also occur naturally in some foods. There is no nutritional benefit to them, in the same way as there is no nutritional benefit in saturated fat. I imagine that cutting the same percent of saturated fat from your diet would have the same, if not greater effect as the overall intake is greater than trans fat. Stopping people eating large amounts of bad fats is a challenge as the food is easy to obtain, fat is used to enhance taste and it is cheap to produce.
    Whilst banning chemically modified Trans fats may be right for a number of reasons, it's not going to stop people eating too much saturated fat.
    Public Health Education is necessary to help people understand what they are eating and help them make the right choices, although not everyone will want to.
    Health Visitors could have a role to play in going further with this kind of public health role and really making a difference to obesity and CHD. Unfortunately the chronic lack of investment, staff and training prevent it.

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  • If u want the lowdown on good & bad fats check out Udo Erasmus

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