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The impact of trans fat regulation on social inequalities in coronary heart disease in Australia

To the Editor: The evidence that industrially produced trans fatty acids (TFAs) increase the risk of coronary heart disease is compelling, and it is widely agreed that their use in food products should be minimised.13 Dietary TFAs are generally found in higher quantities in “unhealthy” food products,4 consumption of which is also found to follow predictable socio-demographic patterns.5 Thus, although the average TFA intake for Australians is relatively low, socioeconomically disadvantaged people are likely to disproportionately represent those with above average intakes.

Mandatory labelling of TFA content on all packaged foods in Australia has recently been advocated,1 so that individuals can make informed decisions about purchasing products with excessive levels of TFA. However, while such an intervention may reduce TFA intake at the population level, it is likely to increase social inequalities in TFA consumption and, therefore, inequalities in deaths from coronary heart disease. The reasons for this are as follows. First, research has shown that people who have healthier…