Heart dis­ease rates lower where trans fats banned

Re­searchers back up New York pol­icy

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LAURA KELLY

The elim­i­na­tion of trans fats in cer­tain coun­ties in New York state led to a com­pa­ra­ble de­cline of car­dio­vas­cu­lar events, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion Car­di­ol­ogy on Wed­nes­day.

The study was re­leased ahead of the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s na­tion­wide ban on the use of trans fats in food man­u­fac­tur­ing and prepa­ra­tion, set to be com­pleted next year.

“The most im­por­tant mes­sage from these data is that they con­firm what we pre­dicted: ben­e­fit in the re­duc­tion of heart at­tacks and strokes,” Dr. Eric Brandt, the study’s lead au­thor, told re­porters. “This is a well-planned and well-ex­e­cuted pub­lic pol­icy.

New York City be­came the first city in the na­tion to ban the use of trans fats in restau­rants, ef­fec­tive July 2008. The city pro­hib­ited the use of hy­dro­genated veg­etable oils, short­en­ings or mar­garines for fry­ing, pan-fry­ing, grilling or as a spread un­less the restau­rants could show that the cook­ing aid con­tained less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serv­ing.

For the study, re­searchers looked at the in­stances of stroke and my­ocar­dial in­farc­tions — the block­age of blood flow to the heart — among New York­ers in 11 coun­ties that in­sti­tuted the ban and 25 that didn’t. The ret­ro­spec­tive study took data from the New York State De­part­ment of Health and cen­sus in­for­ma­tion from 2002 to 2011.

The re­searchers found a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease of my­ocar­dial in­farc­tions and strokes among the pop­u­la­tions where the ban took ef­fect com­pared with those that didn’t.

“The NYS pop­u­la­tions with [trans fatty acid] re­stric­tions ex­pe­ri­enced fewer car­dio­vas­cu­lar events, be­yond tem­po­ral trends, com­pared with those with­out re­stric­tions,” the au­thors wrote in their con­clu­sion.

While pro­cessed and prepack­aged food was a sym­bol of the bur­geon­ing Amer­i­can mid­dle class in the 1950s, the con­sump­tion has con­trib­uted to to­day’s obe­sity epi­demic.

Trans fats, in par­tic­u­lar, con­trib­ute to heart dis­ease — the No. 1 killer in the U.S. — by rais­ing bad choles­terol lev­els and low­er­ing good ones, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion. It also leads to stroke and is as­so­ci­ated with a higher risk of de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes, the or­ga­ni­za­tion notes.

Trans fats are most com­monly found in baked goods, fried food and snacks, cream­ers and mar­garine. Restau­rants, fast-food es­tab­lish­ments and food man­u­fac­tur­ers fa­vor these types of oils for cook­ing be­cause of its taste, af­ford­abil­ity and long shelf life.

But it wasn’t un­til the 1990s that re­search be­gan to dis­cover the health risks they posed.

In 2006, the same year New York City in­tro­duced its ban, the FDA started re­quir­ing food man­u­fac­tur­ers to iden­tify the amount of trans fats in the nutri­tional in­for­ma­tion on pack­aged food.

By 2015, the FDA had down­graded par­tially hy­dro­genated oils as not “gen­er­ally rec­og­nized as safe” for use in hu­man food. This clas­si­fi­ca­tion ac­com­pa­nied the an­nounce­ment for man­u­fac­tur­ers to be­gin elim­i­nat­ing all trans fats from their prod­ucts.

When the FDA’s na­tion­wide ban was first an­nounced, me­dia out­lets re­ported that com­pa­nies were al­ready tak­ing steps to re­duce or elim­i­nate trans fats in their prod­ucts.

The Na­tional Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents more than 1 mil­lion restau­rants and food ser­vice out­lets, said at the time that the FDA and the food in­dus­try had al­ready suc­ceeded in de­creas­ing trans fats con­sump­tion in the U.S. by 78 per­cent, from 2003 to 2011.

Some food servers and sell­ers started elim­i­nat­ing trans fats in their prod­ucts be­fore the FDA an­nounced the ban.

In 2007, Star­bucks an­nounced that it would end the use of ar­ti­fi­cial trans fats.

Wal-Mart aimed to elim­i­nate all trans fats from prod­ucts sold in its stores by 2015. A re­quest for com­ment as to whether it achieved the goal was not re­ceived by press time.

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