Intended for healthcare professionals


Dietary fats, health, and inequalities

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 15 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4671
  1. J Lennert Veerman, senior lecturer
  1. 1University of Queensland, School of Public Health, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: l.veerman{at}

There’s nothing good about trans fats; a total ban would be best for public health

The stakes are high in matters of food and health. Everyone is exposed, so everyone is personally affected. Small increases in risk translate to large health impacts at the population level. Research is fraught with challenges, and powerful vested interests try to influence policy decisions, science, scientists, and practitioners.1

Two linked papers focusing on dietary fats add to these debates. De Souza and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.h3978) reviewed the evidence on saturated fats and trans fats.2 The verdict on the health impact of saturated fats is still open, but industrial trans fats are clearly bad for health. Allen and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.h4583) translate the evidence against trans fats into tangible effects on population health and health inequalities in England.3 Here, the debate centres on the best way to phase out industrial trans fats and how much state intervention is justified.

De Souza and colleagues performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies that examined the association between saturated fats and trans fats and a range of cardiovascular outcomes and diabetes.2 They concluded that saturated fats were not associated …

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