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Doctors call for trans-fat ban

Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal are calling for trans-fats, also known as trans fatty acids, to be banned from the UK - they claim this would help save thousands of lives and prevent thousands of heart attacks every year.

Trans-fats are chemically altered vegetable oils which increase the shelf life of food products but have no nutritional value. They are found in many cakes, pastries, pies, chips and fast foods.

1 per cent cut 'could save thousands of lives'

The authors claim consumption of trans-fats raises levels of bad cholesterol and can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and irregular heartbeat. They also conclude that cutting overall consumption of trans fats in England by just 1 per cent would lead to 11,000 fewer heart attacks each year and 7,000 fewer deaths.

Trans-fat are already banned in Denmark, New York, California, Switzerland and Austria.

Food Standards Agency's view

The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) has stated that consumption of trans-fats in the UK is about 1 per cent of total energy intake and therefore should not be seen as a cause for concern.

In 2007, the FSA carried out a review of trans-fats and said the current position, which is to encourage the food industry to remove many trans-fats voluntarily, is working and that there is no need for legislation.

Diabetes UK's view

“We always encourage people to follow a healthy, balanced diet which is low in fat, sugar and salt," said Libby Dowling, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.

"People should also aim to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day to help them maintain a healthy weight.

The FSA has stated that current consumption of trans-fat in the UK is low and that the food industry is already being encouraged to cut down on the amount of the product they use, which we welcome.” 

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