Nav: Home

Banning trans fats in England could prevent 7,000 heart deaths over next 5 years

September 15, 2015

A total ban on trans fatty acids (trans fats) in processed foods in England could potentially prevent or postpone about 7,200 deaths from coronary heart disease over the next five years, suggest experts in The BMJ this week.

They say a total ban in England is "technically feasible" and they call for "decisive action" to prioritise the most effective and cost effective policy options.

Industrial trans fatty acids are produced from plant oils (a process known as hydrogenation) and are commonly added to processed foods to cheaply improve shelf life and palatability.

Higher intake of these fats is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease and death, and consumption is generally higher in lower socioeconomic groups. Their elimination from the UK diet is part of the Department of Health's responsibility deal.

So a team of researchers decided to evaluate three policy options to reduce consumption of trans fats in England: a total ban on trans fatty acids in processed foods; improved food labelling; and bans on trans fatty acids in restaurants and takeaway outlets.

They calculated health and equity benefits and cost effectiveness of each policy compared with consumption remaining at most recent levels. Influential factors such as age, sex, and socioeconomic status were taken into account.

Guidelines currently recommend that trans fats are limited to less than 1% of energy intake. The researchers calculated that average consumption of trans fatty acids among UK adults in 2001-09 to 2011-12 was around 0.7% of energy intake. For the most disadvantaged groups, consumption was higher, around 1.3%.

The researchers found that a total ban on industrial trans fatty acids in processed foods in England might potentially prevent or postpone about 7,200 deaths (2.6%) from coronary heart disease from 2015-20 and reduce inequality in mortality from coronary heart disease by about 3,000 deaths (15%).

This inequality stems from the fact that early death from coronary heart disease is substantially higher among the most disadvantaged socioeconomic groups compared with the most affluent.

Policies to improve labelling or simply remove trans fatty acids from restaurants and takeaways could save between 1,800 (0.7%) and 3,500 (1.3%) deaths from coronary heart disease and reduce inequalities by 600 (3%) to 1,500 (7%) deaths, thus making them at best half as effective.

A total ban would also have the greatest net cost savings of £264m excluding product reformulation costs, or £64m if substantial reformulation costs are incurred.

"Elimination of trans fatty acids from processed foods is an achievable target for public health policy," say the authors. Such a ban "would lead to health benefits at least twice as large as other policy options, both in terms of total population benefit and reduction in inequality."

They suggest that continuing to rely on industry cooperation via the responsibility deal "might be insufficient" and call for "decisive action" to prioritise the most effective and cost effective policy options.

There's nothing good about industrial trans fats and a total ban would be best for public health, argues Lennert Veerman from the University of Queensland's School of Public Health, in an accompanying editorial.

"Given the clear evidence on the health impact of trans fats and what we know about consumption patterns, rates of heart disease, and related economic costs in England, we can safely conclude that these actions to accelerate the removal of industrial trans fat from the food supply are good for health, cost saving, and equitable," he writes.


Related Heart Disease Articles:

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.
Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.
Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart attacks in men.
Where you live could determine risk of heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease
People living in parts of Ontario with better access to preventive health care had lower rates of cardiac events compared to residents of regions with less access, found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Older adults with heart disease can become more independent and heart healthy with physical activity
Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
Dietary factors associated with substantial proportion of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and disease
Nearly half of all deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the US in 2012 were associated with suboptimal consumption of certain dietary factors, according to a study appearing in the March 7 issue of JAMA.
Certain heart fat associated with higher risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women
For the first time, researchers have pinpointed a type of heart fat, linked it to a risk factor for heart disease and shown that menopausal status and estrogen levels are critical modifying factors of its associated risk in women.
Maternal chronic disease linked to higher rates of congenital heart disease in babies
Pregnant women with congenital heart defects or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with severe congenital heart disease and should be monitored closely in the prenatal period, according to a study published in CMAJ.
More Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.