WASHINGTON The American Medical Association threw its weight behind legislation to ban the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries nationwide on Monday.
The group, which represents about 240,000 doctors and medical students, said it would move away from a previous, gentler position that advised people to reduce their use and move to healthier fats and oils instead.
"Trans fats have been proven to raise LDL (low density lipoprotein), the bad cholesterol, while lowering HDL (high density lipoprotein), the good cholesterol, which significantly increases the risk for heart disease," said AMA board member Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree.
"By supporting a ban on the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries, we can help improve the quality of the food Americans eat and may ultimately save lives."
The group, meeting in Orlando, Florida, said replacing trans fats would prevent up to 100,000 premature deaths each year in the United States alone.
Trans fats come from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. It makes liquid oil more like butter and makes it less likely to go rancid -- but in the process makes it just as dangerous to arteries as butter or lard.
New York City and California banned trans fats in July.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Doina Chiacu)