London: Banning trans fats from all foods would prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths every year and would be a simple way to protect the public and save lives, say senior doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The authors say in their report that bans in Denmark and New York City effectively eliminated trans fats without reducing food availability, taste or affordability.
There is also no evidence that such legislation leads to harm from increased use of saturated fats. Their view follows calls by public health specialists to eliminate the consumption of industrially-produced trans fats by next year.
Trans fats (also known as trans fatty acids) are solid fats found in margarines, biscuits, cakes and fast food. Many studies demonstrate harmful effects of trans fats on cardiovascular risk factors.
For example, trans fats increase the amount of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or `bad cholesterol` in the blood and reduce the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL) or `good cholesterol`.
People with high levels of LDL cholesterol tend to have a higher risk of getting heart disease, while people with high levels of HDL cholesterol tend to have a lower risk.
A recent analysis of all the evidence recommends that people should reduce or stop their dietary intake of trans fatty acids to minimise the related risk of coronary heart disease.
Removing industrial trans fats is one of the most straightforward public health strategies for rapid improvements in health, the authors say in a British Medical Journal (BMJ) release.
Based on current disease rates, a strategy to reduce consumption of trans fats by even one percent of total energy intake would be expected to prevent 11,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths annually in Britain alone.