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Estimating the health care savings from trans fat-free canola in Canada

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Growing scientific evidence links consumption of trans fatty acids in the diet to elevated levels of cholesterol and therefore to coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is the single largest contributor to health care costs in Canada (both direct medical costs and indirect costs in the form of lost productivity). As with many industrialized nations, rising public health care costs are a major public policy concern in Canada. The major source of trans fats is hydrogenated vegetable oils and processed food products. New canola varieties are emerging which enable the production of canola oils that are virtually trans fat-free. This paper evaluates the potential savings in public health care costs from a trans fat-free canola oil. Using four scenarios and conservative assumptions, the paper estimates non-trivial potential health cost savings in the range of Cdn$280 million to Cdn$1.09 billion annually. A number of policy implications are discussed.

Keywords: Cholesterol; coronary heart disease; externality; health care costs; trans fatty acids

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of EconomicsUniversity of Lethbridge, Canada 2: University of Saskatchewan, Department of Agricultural Economics, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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