MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- New York City's restriction on the use of trans fats in foods served at restaurants is helping Big Apple residents cut down on the unhealthy fat, a new study shows.
Researchers compared purchase receipts from fast food restaurants in 2007, before the ban went into effect, to those from 2009, after it went into effect.
Trans-fat intake decreased, said researcher Christine Curtis, director of nutrition strategy at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"It's a substantial drop," she noted.
The average drop in trans fats per purchase -- which included food for just one person -- dropped 2.4 grams, Curtis said. It started at 2.9 grams of trans fat per purchase and dropped to 0.5 grams.
Saturated fat increased a bit, to 0.55 grams per purchase. But overall, when the researchers looked at trans and saturated fats together, it was still a drop of 1.9 grams of unhealthy fats per person.
On average, the diners saw a decline in trans fats of about 21 calories per purchase, Curtis said.
That is enough to help heart health, experts think. "It's been estimated that 40 calories from trans fats per day increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent," Curtis said.
The study is published in the July 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The researchers also found that the number of meals that had no trans fat increased to 59 percent after the ban went into effect, compared with 32 percent before.
The greatest decline in trans fat purchases were seen at hamburger chains, followed by Mexican food chains and fried chicken restaurants.
For the study, Curtis and her team compared the trans fat and saturated fat content of 6,969 purchases in 2007 with 7,885 purchases in 2009. They went to 168 New York City locations of 11 fast-food chains at lunchtime.
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