Thousands of lives could be saved and thousands of heart attacks prevented if trans fats were banned from the UK, experts have claimed.
Cakes, pastries, pies, chips and fast foods contain trans fats, which are also known as trans fatty acids.
The fats, which have no nutritional value, are chemically altered vegetable oils with increased shelf lives.
Experts have urged the UK to follow the example of several other regions – Denmark, New York, California, Switzerland and Austria – in banning trans fats.
Writing online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), they said trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol, and are likely to promote weight gain, diabetes, insulin resistance and irregular heartbeat.
Eating trans fats is linked to a "substantial risk of heart disease events", including heart attacks and death from coronary disease, they added.
"This risk is far higher per calorie consumed than for any other dietary macronutrient, including saturated fat," according to the experts, from Harvard Medical School in Boston in the US.
In developed nations, the average population consumption of trans fats is often 2% to 4% of total calorie intake. But some lower income groups may be eating as much as 8%.
The authors predicted that cutting overall consumption of trans fats in England by just 1% would lead to 11,000 fewer heart attacks each year and 7,000 fewer deaths.
"Removing industrial trans fatty acids is one of the most straightforward public health strategies for rapid improvements in health," they said.
"Yes this is would be far more 'productive' than banning butter or even trying to get an increasingly reluctant population to eat more fruit, eat less meat, do more exercise etc. Looking at the amount of junk food sold and consumed it would have a very high impact on health improvement and most people would not even be aware that it had been omitted. Plus for a change the NHS would not have to fork out for it becoming yet another 'initiative' which usually end up costing a fortune of NHS money with usually dubious results" - Marie, Lancs