New York's ban on trans fats appears to be motivating more fast food diners to eat healthier, according to new study conducted by the city.
Researchers in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene compared customer meals in 2007 before the trans fat ban and in 2009, a year after the ban went into full effect. The study was published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study revealed people were eating less fat overall after trans fat regulations were put in place. Both high and low income families also made healthier orders at fast food restaurants after the ban, suggesting health concerns may be a bigger issue to Americans than financial constraints.
"We hope this makes it clear that there is an opportunity for local jurisdictions to protect the health of their consumers," said Christine Curtis, director of nutrition strategy programs in the New York City Department of Health.
The biggest drop in average trans fat consumption occurred in burger chains, followed by Mexican restaurants, and fried chicken chains.
"The regulation may serve as a model for future successful public health initiatives," Alice Lichtenstein, a nutrition specialist at Tufts University, wrote in a commentary on the research.
New York City was the first in the nation to pass a ban against the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants. The ban forced restaurants to eliminate certain ingredients and offer menu options with no more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
Trans fats have been linked to several heart problems and come from hydrogenated oils often used in restaurants.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now pushing for a city ban on sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.