A total ban of trans fats in processed foods might prevent or postpone around 7,200 deaths from coronary heart disease over the next five years.
The research, which was led by Dr Kirk Allen at Lancaster University, found that an outright ban on trans fats in processed foods would also save the NHS in England around £265m a year.
Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fats, added to foodstuffs to enhance their taste and extend their shelf-life, which increase levels of LDL cholesterol, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and decrease HDL cholesterol, or ‘good’ cholesterol.
Professor Peter Diggle, of Lancaster Medical School, who co-led the study, said: “The risk to any individual’s health from consuming trans-fats is very small. Nevertheless, the principle that trans fats should not be added to processed food appears to be widely accepted, and the empirical evidence is that the best way to achieve the desired result is to regulate.”
Policies to improve labelling or simply remove trans fatty acids from restaurants/fast food could save between 1800 and 3500 deaths from coronary heart disease and reduce inequalities by 3% to 7% deaths, thus making them at best half as effective.
A total ban would have the greatest net cost savings of about £265m while key factors such as age, sex, and socioeconomic status were taken into account in their computer modelling.
The research was led by Dr Kirk Allen while he was at Lancaster University, and was co-authored by researchers at Oxford and Liverpool universities. The full study can be found HERE