A recent study has reportedly concluded that a New York City regulation restricting the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil by all food service establishments “was associated with a substantial and statistically significant decrease in the trans fat content of purchases at fast-food chains, without a commensurate increase in saturated fat.” Sonia Angell, et al., “Change in Trans Fatty Acid Content of Fast-Food Purchases Associated with New York City’s Restaurant Regulation,” Annals of Internal Medicine, July 2012.
Funded by New York City and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Eating Research Program, researchers between 2007 and 2009 conducted a cross-sectional study matching purchase receipts with available nutrition information and consumer surveys at 168 randomly selected locations of 11 fast-food chains.
Compared with data gathered before the trans fat restrictions took effect, the information collected after the regulation’s implementation allegedly demonstrated “an associated large and probably clinically meaningful reduction in the trans fat content of lunchtime purchases,” with “the absolute decrease in trans fat per purchase” amounting to 2.4 grams or 21.6 kilocalories. The study also noted that these reductions were not offset by increased saturated fat consumption.
“Given that one third of calories in the United States comes from foods prepared away from home, this suggests a remarkable achievement in potential cardiovascular risk reduction through food policy,” stated the study’s authors, who argued that their findings had implications “beyond NYC” as other regions consider implementing similar restrictions. “Our results, therefore, suggest the potential for broader effect of local food policy on a country’s food companies.”