Trans fat ban saving lives in New York, study shows

By Greg Hamilton • Published: July 31st, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s no secret among health advocates that trans fats can be bad for you. Now, there is proof of how much eliminating it from your diet can help. A study of people in several counties in New York state, where restaurants were banned from using trans fats for several years, shows a significant drop in hospital admissions for both heart attacks and stroke.

Researchers at the University of Southern California examined data from the New York State Department of Public Health concerning 11 counties around New York City that from 2007 to 2011 banned restaurants from using partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats. Within three years of the restrictions being implemented, the 11 counties had a 6.2 percent overall lower rate of heart attacks and strokes when compared to counties that did not have the ban. The drop in heart attacks alone was 7.8 percent, and the decline in strokes was 3.6 percent. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

The lead researcher said the results show these restrictions are beneficial to public health, especially when people don’t have enough information to make healthy choices. Since 2006, manufacturers have been required to include trans fat content information on the Nutrition Facts label of foods, but people dining at a restaurant don’t know what’s going on in the kitchen.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes the health risks of trans fats, which it says are “generally not recognized as safe’’ for use in human food. The agency has given food manufacturers until 2018 to remove them from their products, which it says will reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.