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Ban on Trans Fats in NYC Restaurants Reduces Cardiovascular Risk

A recently published study found that overall trans fat levels had fallen by around 57 percent and people who frequently dined out benefited from a greater decrease of around 62 percent.

Mar. 4, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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A new study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health con­firmed that lev­els of trans fatty acids (TFA) in New Yorker’s blood have dropped sig­nif­i­cantly since the ban on restau­rants using trans fats took effect in 2007.

Sonia Angell, the co-author of the study and Deputy Com­mis­sioner at NYC Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hygiene, told Olive Oil Times the study proves that poli­cies to make restau­rants health­ier work.

Reduc­ing New York­ers’ expo­sure to dan­ger­ous trans fat in restau­rants, and thereby reduc­ing their risk for a heart attack, was made pos­si­ble by this pol­icy.- Sonia Angell, Deputy Com­mis­sioner at NYC Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hygiene

This tells us that poli­cies that aim to make restau­rant foods health­ier can work,” she said. That’s impor­tant because in New York City, peo­ple like to eat out. In fact, 20 per­cent of New York City adults said they ate restau­rant food at least four times or more a week.”

Angell believes the ban has been suc­cess­ful.

Trans fat in the diet increases the risk for heart dis­ease. Just two per­cent of total calo­ries (about 40 cal) from trans-fat has been shown to increase the inci­dence of coro­nary heart dis­ease by 23 per­cent,” she said. Reduc­ing New York­ers’ expo­sure to dan­ger­ous trans fat in restau­rants, and thereby reduc­ing their risk for a heart attack, was made pos­si­ble by this pol­icy.”

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The results revealed that whilst over­all blood trans fat lev­els had fallen by around 57 per­cent, peo­ple who fre­quently dined out ben­e­fited from an even greater decrease of around 62 per­cent; indi­cat­ing that that the ban on TFA in restau­rant foods has been effec­tive in reduc­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk.

The research team were not sur­prised by the results.

We had imple­mented the ban with the inten­tion reduc­ing people’s expo­sure to trans fat – our study con­firmed this hap­pened,” Angell said.

Over­all, there was a 57 per­cent decline in trans fat in the blood in New York City res­i­dents,” she added. That’s sim­i­lar to what has been seen nation­ally dur­ing that gen­eral time frame (54 per­cent).”

We didn’t know what the expected dif­fer­ence would be based upon fre­quency of eat­ing out,” Angell con­tin­ued. That’s what we aimed to add to the public’s under­stand­ing with our study. Peo­ple who ate out rarely had a 51 per­cent reduc­tion in trans fat in their blood, while peo­ple who ate out four times a week or more had a 61 per­cent reduc­tion in the trans fat in their blood.”

The study was under­taken as part of a health and nutri­tion sur­vey, which exam­ined par­tic­i­pants’ din­ing habits in order to gauge the impact of the TFA ban. Two hun­dred and twelve blood sam­ples taken in 2004 were com­pared against 247 drawn in 2013 and 2014.

The sam­ples taken in 2013 and 2014 showed a drop in serum TFAs from 49.2 micro­moles per liter to 21.3, which meant that New York­ers’ trans fat lev­els had plunged over­all by around 57 per­cent. In peo­ple who dined out four times a week or more, the decrease in serum TFAs was sig­nif­i­cantly greater at around 62 per­cent.

Angell also hailed the FDA’s 2018 ban on trans fats, which was rolled-out across all U.S. restau­rants and gro­cery stores fol­low­ing a three year phase out period.

We’re for­tu­nate because as of June 2018, the FDA has man­dated the removal of par­tially hydro­genated oils, the major source of trans fat, from the food sup­ply at large,” she said. That means that no mat­ter where you live or eat, trans fat should no longer put your heart at risk.”

An ear­lier study under­taken by Yale con­cluded that strokes and heart attacks dropped when trans fats were banned in New York restau­rants. The researchers reported a 6.2 per­cent decline in hos­pi­tal admis­sions for heart attacks and strokes. The study also showed that the decline in hos­pi­tal admis­sions became more sig­nif­i­cant three years on from the ban.

In 2007 when arti­fi­cial trans fats were already being flagged as detri­men­tal to heath, a study con­firmed that con­sum­ing high lev­els was linked to a greater risk to coro­nary heart dis­ease.





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