by Matti Marklund, Miaobing Zheng, J. Lennert Veerman, Jason H. Y. Wu
trans-fatty acids (TFAs) are a well-known risk factor of ischemic heart disease (IHD). In Australia, the highest TFA intake is concentrated to the most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Elimination of industrial TFA (iTFA) from the Australian food supply could result in reduced IHD mortality and morbidity while improving health equity. However, such legislation could lead to additional costs for both government and food industry. Thus, we assessed the potential cost-effectiveness, health gains, and effects on health equality of an iTFA ban from the Australian food supply.
Methods and findings
Markov cohort models were used to estimate the impact on IHD burden and health equity, as well as the cost-effectiveness of a national ban of iTFA in Australia. Intake of TFA was assessed using the 2011–2012 Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. The IHD burden attributable to TFA was calculated by comparing the current level of TFA intake to a counterfactual setting where consumption was lowered to a theoretical minimum distribution with a mean of 0.5% energy per day (corresponding to TFA intake only from nonindustrial sources, e.g., dairy foods). Policy costs, avoided IHD events and deaths, health-adjusted life years (HALYs) gained, and changes in IHD-related healthcare costs saved were estimated over 10 years and lifetime of the adult Australian population. Cost-effectiveness was assessed by calculation of incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) using net policy cost and HALYs gained. Health benefits and healthcare cost changes were also assessed in subgroups based on socioeconomic status, defined by Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) quintile, and remoteness. Compared to a base case of no ban and current TFA intakes, elimination of iTFA was estimated to prevent 2,294 (95% uncertainty interval [UI]: 1,765; 2,851) IHD deaths and 9,931 (95% UI: 8,429; 11,532) IHD events over the first 10 years. The greatest health benefits were accrued to the most socioeconomically disadvantaged quintiles and among Australians living outside of major cities. The intervention was estimated to be cost saving (net cost Conclusions
Our model estimates that a ban of iTFAs could avert substantial numbers of IHD events and deaths in Australia and would likely be a highly cost-effective strategy to reduce social–economic and urban–rural inequalities in health. These findings suggest that elimination of iTFA can cost-effectively improve health and health equality even in countries with low iTFA intake.