Study: Thousands of Heart Attacks Prevented by Banning Trans Fats

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Most of the state of New York banned restaurants from preparing food with partially hydrogenated oils – rich in damning trans fats. According to a new study, this measure lead to thousands of heart attacks prevented.

A research team from University of Southern California’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics looked at the number of hospitalizations for heart attacks or strokes in New York. They compared counties that implemented these laws with the counties that didn’t. They found that hospitalizations declined in all of the counties. But the ones who banned trans fats in restaurant cooking had a 6.2 percent lower rate of heart attacks and strokes a few years after the laws were passed. The amount of heart attacks prevented by the laws is in the thousands.

The officials of the counties passed laws banning the use of trans fats to prepare food in restaurants between 2007 and 2011 in the state of New York; most of them in the metropolitan area of New York. The research team published the study analyzing the effects of the ban in JAMA Cardiology. The team used population estimate and state department of health data to reach the conclusion.

Trans fats or partly hydrogenated oils have a long history of being tied to heart disease risks. They occur in vegetable oils to which manufacturers add hydrogen to make them more solid. Like the way stores sell oil-based margarine as a stick, with an appearance very similar to butter.

The Food and Drug Administration will be taking some measures regarding trans fats. Starting next summer, it will prohibit manufacturers from adding trans fats to snacks like cookies, crackers, and microwave popcorn.

The research team accounted for the fact that the counties in New York weren’t all similar. They included differences when it came to demographics, lifestyles and other health measures in play. But the researchers accounted for those differences and the results regarding trans fat were applicable to all of them.

Heart attacks prevented: 7.8 percent decline

When it came to the lower rates of just heart attacks, the decline was 7.8 percent. While the decline in strokes was about 3.6 percent.

Rebecca Myerson, one of the study’s authors, said that the results show that trans fat restrictions are quite beneficial to public health; especially since people don’t always have enough information to make healthier choices. “Although there is already plenty of information out there about the [trans fat] content of packaged foods, at restaurants people didn’t know,” she said. “And now they don’t have to.”

People didn’t have to know that some counties banned trans fats and they could go about their dinner plans and just have a healthier lifestyle without having the burden on themselves.

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