Life / Health

As evidence of benefit mounts, Canada considers ban on partially hydrogenated oils

Counties in New York State that banned trans fats in restaurants saw a decline in heart attacks and strokes: study

Partially hydrogenated oils -- found in some fried foods, shortenings and packaged treats -- are the main source of trans fats in Canadians' diets. Now a ban could be in the works.

associated press

Partially hydrogenated oils -- found in some fried foods, shortenings and packaged treats -- are the main source of trans fats in Canadians' diets. Now a ban could be in the works.

Advocates for a long-discussed ban on trans fats in Canada argue it would reduce heart attacks and strokes.

Now, thanks to a new study in the journal JAMA Cardiology, they have more evidence to bolster their case.

Counties in New York State that banned trans fats in restaurants saw a significant decline in hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke within three years, compared to counties that did not enact a ban.

The decline was greater than the general negative trend in heart attacks and strokes seen across the state, and it held even after controlling for demographic factors and income. The decline was equivalent to 43 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 100,000 people per year.

If the same results were to be seen across Canada’s population of 35.16 million people, a ban on trans fats in restaurants alone would result in about 15,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes per year.

Meat and dairy products contain traces of trans fats, but Canadians get most of their intake from the partially hydrogenated oils used in shortening, hard margarine and some fried foods and packaged baked goods. Consuming even one or two grams of trans fat per day is linked to a greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

A federal ban on trans fats was first proposed by the NDP in 2004. Subsequent proposals, and a Conservative plan to get companies to voluntarily remove trans fats from their products, all flopped.

Earlier this month, Health Canada issued a new proposal for a ban of partially hydrogenated oils. It’s accepting input from stakeholders until June 21.     

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