TRANS FAT REGULATIONS

Kenya urged to replace trans fats with healthier oils

Kenya has signed up to the World Health Organisation commitment to eliminate the trans fats by 2023, but no legislation has been made toward this.

In Summary

• Experiences in several countries demonstrate that industrially produced trans-fats can be replaced by healthier oils.

•The World Health Organisation says trans fats cause heart attack and stroke and are estimated to cause more than 540,000 deaths a year worldwide.

International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA) CEO Emma Wanyonyi
International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA) CEO Emma Wanyonyi
Image: TRIZZA KIMANI

The government has been urged to implement its commitment to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.

Kenya has signed up to the World Health Organisation commitment to eliminate the fats by 2023, but no legislation has been made toward this.

The International Institute for Legislative Affairs, a Nairobi-based legal think-tank, says Kenyans living in towns are particularly exposed to unhealthy fats.

The organisation has a two-year Links grant to advocate for effective trans-fat regulations in Kenya.

IILA joins the second round of grant awardees from Links, an online community and resource-sharing platform that connects people working to improve cardiovascular health around the world.

“Cardiovascular disease causes 13 per cent of deaths in Kenya. With this grant, we will be able to address the growing problem of diet-related risk factors, specifically the elimination of trans fat,” said Emma Wanyonyi, CEO of IILA.

The World Health Organisation says trans fats cause heart attack and stroke and are estimated to cause more than 540,000 deaths a year worldwide.

A recent analysis concluded that the elimination of trans fats from the global food supply could save 17 million lives over 25 years.

Trans-fatty fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

According to IILA, research has proved the direct connection of trans fatty acids with cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, shortening of pregnancy period, risks of preeclampsia, disorders of the nervous system and vision in infants, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and allergies

IILA said Kenya’s urban population is increasingly facing diet-related NCDs (including CVDs) due to changing lifestyles and unhealthy diets- consumption foods, trans and saturated fats.

The situation is aggravated by increasing fast foods coupled with aggressive advertising and marketing of junk foods under an insufficient regulatory framework. 

“The Links grant programme will help to identify local solutions to hypertension control and advance control of non-communicable diseases through primary health care. The program will also build capacity in health systems, which is critical to advance universal health coverage,” said Dr. Cherian Varghese, Coordinator of Management of Non-Communicable Diseases at WHO.

 
 

The one-time LINKS grants recognize that long-term, sustainable prevention of cardiovascular disease requires commitment and funding from governments. 

The grants are intended to help health systems and non-governmental organizations pilot new approaches and scale up successful initiatives, which will over time reduce health care costs associated with avoidable heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.