Food and Behaviour Research

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11 July 2011 - BBC Food Blog - The Trouble with Trans Fats

by Sheila Dillon


Scientific and medical evidence has clearly shown that industrial trans fats are toxic - and so should not be in our food supply (see Mozaffarian & Stampfer 2010

Trans fats have long been known to significantly increase risks for heart disease and diabetes. More recent evidence indicates that they also have damaging effects on human brains and behaviour. This is hardly surprising given that trans fats are artificially warped and twisted versions of the natural omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturates that are absolutely required for normal brain development and function.

Denmark was the first country to ban these poisonous fats in 2006. New York and California have followed suit, and bans are now in force or imminent in several European countries.  But despite calls from leading public health experts in the UK and US for the UK to ban them too, our government and its agencies continue to claim that 'voluntary agreements' with big players in the food industry are sufficient to protect UK consumers.  

In the latest episode of BBC Radio 4's Food Programme, Sheila Dillon exposed the fatal flaws in this argument. And here, she has followed up with a BBC Foodblog on the subject. 

BBC Food Blog - The Trouble with Trans Fats

by Sheila Dillon

This week’s edition of The Food Programme investigates the issue of trans-fats in our food (artificial fats which are formed during a process called hydrogenation, which turns liquid oil into solid fat).  A key part of the government’s public health policies are the Responsibility Deals - voluntary agreements with the food industry on the ‘healthiness’ of their products. Partners include a wide range of big companies, including  KFC, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Pret A Manger and McDonalds. One of their aims is to get rid of trans fatty acids in their foods by the end of the year. But is that decision sufficient to get rid of a substance that, according to Professor Simon Capewell on this week’s The Food Programme, kills 35 people in the UK every two days?