On the heels of the city's push to ban the sale of large sugary drinks comes a study showing the benefits of the trans fat ban enacted five years ago. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
New York made history in the summer of 2007, becoming the first city in the nation to ban trans fats from its restaurants.
Once found in everything from french fries to apple pies, a new study by the city Department of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal shows the ban is making a difference.
"The results of our study are that overall, bad fat went down," said Christine Curtis, the director of nutrition strategy at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
From 2007 to 2009, before and after the ban took effect, the health department collected nearly 15,000 lunch receipts from 168 randomly selected fast food restaurants in the city.
"After the restriction, the average amount of trans fat per lunch time meal went down 2.4 grams," Curtis said.
Hamburger chains saw the largest drop in trans fat lunch time purchases, with that number lowered by 3.8 grams, followed by Mexican and fried chicken restaurants.
Dr. Howard Weintraub, the clinical director at the NYU Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, is a long-time supporter of the ban. He applauds the findings.
"They were afraid that other bad fats would sneak their way in and those fats would end up being bad for us," he said. "So it turns out that while there was a 2.5 gram reduction in trans fat, there was only a minor increase in saturated fat. So the total fat reduction was about two grams."
It was a benefit to New Yorkers at all income levels.
"We looked at richer and poorer neighborhoods in the the city and saw that the reduction of trans fat was the same," Curtis said.
Trans fats have been linked to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
"Trans fats, along with raising your bad cholesterol, your LDL, lowers your good cholesterol, which is an added kibosh that nobody wants," Weintraub said. "So as a result, this makes this fat that much more dangerous and there is no really one medicine that will specifically take the trans fats out of your system. The only way to do it is to not let them be in your system when you eat."
Health professionals remind the public that eliminating trans fats in your diet is just one part of the equation for a healthier lifestyle.