New York City Ban on Trans Fat Having Nationwide Effect

NYC Health Department officials say the ban can improve lipid profiles for millions of people

TUESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- New York City's first-ever ban on artificial trans fat in restaurant food has sparked a nationwide move away from the substance by food chains, and has prompted a dozen other local governments and the state of California to enact similar bans, according to an article in the July 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Sonia Y. Angell, M.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues described the trans fat initiative, which began with a 2005 educational and media campaign urging voluntary removal of the substance. The next step was an amendment to the Health Code, banning artificial trans fat, which was approved in December 2006 and phased in over two years.

The authors note that assessments of restaurants in May and June of 2005 found that 50 percent used artificial trans fat. A year later, after the educational and media efforts, 51 percent of restaurants still were using the substance. In a third survey in May to June 2007, after passage of the amendment but before the effective date, the percentage dropped to 43 percent. By November 2008 and full enforcement, 98 percent of restaurants had eliminated artificial trans fat.

"Right now, the highest priority should be to learn as much as possible about the health benefits and unintended consequences of restricting trans fats and building public confidence in the interventions already under way in New York, Tiburon, Denmark and elsewhere, so that emerging policies reflect the best science and the best available public health practices," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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