NYC’s trans-fat ban declared a success

Photo by Mr Ducke via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of super-size sodas in food-service outlets had a public hearing. Last week, there was news about Bloomberg’s earlier program that banned trans fats from restaurants. As Alice Park reported for Time,

A study of restaurant diners in New York shows that the city’s ban on trans fats improved its residents’ diet: fast-food customers chose healthier options and cut their trans-fat consumption after the ban….

In 2009, the average diner’s fast-food meal contained about 2.4 grams less trans fats, down to about half a gram of trans fat per meal. More people also bought menu items with 0% trans fat after the restriction went into place, representing an 86% increase in these healthier options over a two-year period….

The scientists also found that nutritionists’ worries that the trans-fat ban would just lead restaurants to swap trans fats for other unhealthy fats were unfounded; although consumption of saturated fat increased slightly, people ended up eating less combined trans and saturated fat after the policy went into effect. That means that people were eating less fat overall, and therefore consuming potentially healthier options.

Further, the findings proved that the reduction in trans fat consumption wasn’t simply resulting from smaller portion sizes. The ban allowed restaurants to come up with different ways to meet the 0.5 g-per-serving limit, including reducing portion sizes. But some restaurants reformulated their menu items to contain less trans fat, while others discontinued trans-fat-laden items altogether and replaced them with healthier products.

Head here for Park’s full article, and check out the original scientific report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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