Banning trans fats in foods can prevent a lot of heart attacks and strokes, a study of trans fat restrictions in New York suggested Wednesday.
Consumption of trans fats, which are commonly found in foods such as chips, crackers, fried foods and baked goods, is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.
In 2007, New York City became the first large metropolitan area in the United States to ban trans fats from restaurants and other eateries.
Similar trans fat restrictions were subsequently enacted in additional New York State counties, and a nationwide ban was set to take effect in the United States in 2018.
In the new study published in the U.S. journal JAMA Cardiology, Eric Brandt of the Yale University and his colleagues compared health outcomes for people living in New York counties with and without the restrictions from 2002 to 2013 using data from the state department of health and census estimates.
They found that three or more years after the restrictions were implemented, there was a 6.2 percent decline in hospitalizations for heart attacks and strokes in counties with restrictions compared to those without the restrictions.
"It is a pretty substantial decline," said Brandt, a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine.
"Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population. Trans fats are deleterious for cardiovascular health, and minimizing or eliminating them from the diet can substantially reduce rates of heart attack and stroke."