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Legally Banning Trans Fat Can Improve Public Health, Study Reports

Update Date: Apr 04, 2013 12:27 PM EDT

Trans fat have been known as one of the major culprits in causing obesity and other health complications, such as heart disease and cholesterol. In order to help prevent the rise of these diseases and health issues in the future, people have to be more conscientious of what and how much they eat. However, the goals to stop eating trans fat often go out the window once that piece of food enters the mouth, which is why a study is reporting that more drastic measures might need to be taken in order to stop people from consuming unhealthy foods. According to a report done by researchers from the University of Sydney, the act of banning trans fat or even limiting it can be highly effective in promoting healthier lifestyles.

The study's lead author, Shauna Downs who is a researcher at the University's Menzies Center for Health Policy looked at the health trends in certain countries that have either banned or limited the availability of trans fact. Downs stated that policies that were adopted by certain countries, such as Brazil, Canada, the United States, Denmark, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Korea, over the past two decades have shown positive results.

"We found for example, that a national ban in Denmark virtually eliminated trans fats from the food supply, while local bans in Canada and the USA were successful in removing trans fats from fried foods," Downs explained. "While some of the government policies were studied imposed voluntary self-regulation and others took mandatory measures, such as labeling, local and national bans on trans fats proved to be the most effective policies for removing trans fats."

The report found that countries can successfully remove trans fat and that the task, despite being long and hard, will greatly benefit the people. Trans fats are often used as a cheap way of flavoring foods. They have a long shelf life and thus are an easy and affordable ingredient to use. However, trans fats have been known to causing perpetual obesity and health complications in the lower social economic classes and countries. Since trans fat products are cheaper, they are often higher in demand for the poorer people, who then develop medical conditions that they might not have the means to control resulting in higher numbers of premature deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked for the global community to remove trans fats from food supplies.

"[This study shows] that these policies are not only feasible and achievable - they are also likely to improve public health," Downs added.

The report was published in the journal, Bulletin of the World Health Organization

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