NYC Trans Fat Ban Is Working, Study Finds

By Amir Khan on July 17, 2012 9:22 AM EDT

hamburger
Five years after the ban of trans fats in New York City, the Big Apple appears to be a little healthier, according to a new study. Since the ban went into effect, New Yorkers have vastly reduced consumption of trans fats, widely considered to be unhealthy. (Photo: Creative Commons: chichacha)

Five years after the ban of trans fats in New York City, the Big Apple appears to be a little healthier, according to a new study.  Since the ban went into effect, New Yorkers have vastly reduced consumption of trans fats, widely considered to be unhealthy.

Trans fats are a kind of unsaturated fat that are generated during food production The generation of these fats requires heat found in commercial kitchens and cannot be made in a typical household kitchen and science has showed that consumption of trans fats increases the risk of heart disease.  

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Before the ban, New Yorkers were consuming approximately 3.0 grams of trans fats with an average fast food lunch. After the ban, that number dropped down to 0.5 grams -- a 2.5 gram difference.

"For consumers, the transition was seamless. Most New Yorkers didn't even notice," Christine Curtis, a coauthor of the study and the director of the city's Nutrition Strategy Program, told CNN. "And now we know that it has really made a difference."

The drop works out to approximately 21 calories less per meal, an amount that can make a substantial difference.

"It's been estimated that 40 calories from trans fats per day increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent," Curtis told HealthDay.

The study is the first to look at how a local health regulations could have far-reaching effects, which is important with the city's impending ban on large sodas and other sugary drinks

"It's a big health benefit for New Yorkers, but really we're looking at a much broader impact, as well," Curtis told CNN.

The trans fat ban worked because it gave consumers a healthier option without forcing them to change their eating habits, Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, in Boston, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, told CNN. A ban on large sodas would accomplish the same, she said.

"The biggest health threat we face is our total caloric intake within the context of our physical activity levels and sedentary lives," she said. "These changes are just small drops in that bucket, but we have to keep an open mind and try multiple approaches if we want to find more strategies that really work."

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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