Get Trans fats out of our food

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We’ve known for years that Trans fats are dangerous fats that are directly implicated in causing heart disease, overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes and stroke, yet still they remain in our food. This is a petition to get industrial Trans fats banned from use in food in the UK.

Trans fats are found in the man-made partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are used by the food industry as a cheap frying oil, a cheap bulking agent, and to extend the shelf-life of products. They can be found in many foods – but especially found in foods that young people eat in great quantity: deep-fried foods like chips, chicken, French fries and doughnuts; and in baked goods including pastries, pies, pizza, cupcakes, biscuits and cookies. 

Companies prefer using Trans fats in their foods because they’re easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use partially hydrogenated oils that contain Trans fats to deep-fry foods because these oils can be used many times in commercial fryers without turning rancid (but causing great harm to whoever consumes them on a regular basis).

Consumption of Trans fats leads to an elevated risk of heart disease, the biggest cause of death in the UK, and stroke. Trans fats have been shown to increase the levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol - which contributes to the fatty plaque that narrows our arteries, and decrease the level of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol in the blood. Trans fat consumption also increases the risk of other chronic health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and depression.

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Medical Association have stated that there is 'no safe limit of Trans fats in the diet', and NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has called for their ban. However the government’s official advice is vague and hard to find. One of the few official government lines on Trans fats comes from former Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, who stated that 'the average UK citizen consumes under 1% in their diet', but the accuracy of this figure is questionable, and some portions of chips have been found to contain a whopping 10g of Trans fats (research by dietitian Michele Sandelson in Tower Hamlets).

Banning trans-fats in the UK would benefit the population, and especially our young people, who are unknowingly consuming these fats every time they visit a chicken or chip shop after school, putting their future health at greatly increased risk. Trans fats have already been banned in many countries (Demark, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary, Latvia), and even the United States and Canada have banned Trans fats, which have to be removed from all foods by 2018. So let’s afford our young people the same care and protection that those in the above named countries enjoy.

Young people who regularly use fast food outlets, are consuming Trans fats on a regular basis. I go into secondary schools to educate young people about Trans fats and very few of them have even heard of them, but are shocked when they discover the damage that they do. It’s not right to put the onus on them to first learn about Trans fats, then avoid eating chips and fried chicken because of a future health outcome 20 or 30 years away.

We have a duty of care on their behalf to finally remove these stealth killers from their diets. Please sign and share this petition.

Yinka Thomas MSc RNutr.



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