Banning trans fats does reduce rates of heart disease, according to new research.
The study, which analysed the results of Denmark’s ban on trans fats, provides real evidence of the serious health risks associated with high consumption of trans fats.
Trans fats are found primarily in foods cooked in partially hydrogenated oil – which accounts for the majority of fried food. Trans fats are popular among manufacturers of junk food because the change in the molecules extends the shelf life of food and ensures consistency of taste. Those same changes have been consistently linked with a higher risk of heart disease, and this study goes some way towards proving it.
Heart disease is a very common complication of diabetes. People with diabetes, therefore, are especially urged to avoid trans fats, so as not to exacerbate the risk further.
The researchers examined the heart disease data in Denmark, where trans fats have been banned since 2004, and compared them with other countries. Between 2003 and 2012, deaths caused by heart disease in Denmark dropped from 359.9 per 100,000 people to 210.9.
“We knew there was a strong relationship between consumption of trans fats and cardiovascular disease,” said Brandon Restrepo, who conducted the study while still a postdoctoral research with the European University Institute.
“What we wanted to do was evaluate whether policies led to a reduction in cardiovascular disease and mortality rates.”
Trans fats bans have proposed in other parts of the world, including New York in 2006. Austria, Iceland, and Switzerland all have similar laws. From 2018, trans fats will be banned throughout the US.
As yet, there are no plans to ban trans fats in the UK, but studies like this may lead to changes. The research suggests that such bans have a real, significant effect.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

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