A new study conducted in the United Kingdom suggests that placing a ban on the use of trans fats in food could potentially save the lives of 7,200 individuals throughout the course of the next five years.
Food manufacturers often use this artificial fat to enhance the flavor, texture and even the average shelf-life of their products. Other forms of trans fats can also naturally occur in meat and dairy products, including whole milk.
Health experts from Liverpool University's Department of Public Health and Policy and Oxford University has called for the banning of the inclusion of trans fats in food in order to save the lives of thousands of people in the United Kingdom each year.
In a study featured in the British Medical Journal, researchers discovered that close to 7,200 cases of heart disease deaths in the country could be prevented over the next five years if trans fats were removed from foods and banned its use entirely.
While there is no legal requirement for food processing companies to indicate trans fats on their products' labels, consumers are cautioned to always check the ingredients lists for possible hydrogenated vegetable oils or hydrogenated fats that could have been included.
There is also no legislation that requires food manufacturers to remove any trans fats from their products, though several companies have pledged to work toward eliminating trans fats in foods through a responsibility deal with the British government.
The researchers noted that the voluntary commitments made by food industry members failed to produce a lasting effect, and that a decisive action should now be taken to address the issue of trans fats in food.
They said that a total ban on the use of trans fatty acids in food processing could help postpone or prevent the deaths of thousands of people in the UK from coronary heart disease from 2015 to 2020. The move could also lessen the inequality observed in coronary heart disease mortality by as much as 3,000 deaths.
The team added that by implementing guidelines on how to label food products or remove trans fats from fast or restaurant food could already prevent the deaths of 1,800 to 3,500 deaths caused by coronary heart disease. These could also reduce mortality inequalities by as much as 600 to 1,500 deaths, making the move half as effective.
The researchers said that the most effective equitable way to do this is to develop and impose a regulatory policy that would eliminate trans fats from processed foods typically eaten by people in the UK.
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