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January 19, 2019

WHO warns against use of solid fats

Products displayed at a supermarket. /FILE
Products displayed at a supermarket. /FILE

Solid fats you are using is slowly but surely taking you to the grave earlier than expected, the World Health Organization has said.

The global body now wants it eliminated from the global food supply, citing the rising cases of heart-related diseases.

WHO said Trans-fatty acids has been leading to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year.

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

WHO now wants it eliminated with a view to protecting health and saving lives.

Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods.

"Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food,"WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement dated May 14.

"Implementing the six strategic actions in the replace package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease," he said.

"Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?" asks Dr Tedros.

"The world is now embarking on the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, using it as a driver for improved access to healthy food and nutrition. WHO is also using this milestone to work with governments, the food industry, academia and civil society to make food systems healthier for future generations, including by eliminating industrially-produced trans fats."

WHO's package on the replacement of trans-fatty acids provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply:

The Global body wants dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape reviewed for required policy change.

It also wants the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils promoted.

Other efforts that WHO wants include the enactment of regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.

It also wants trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population Assessed and monitored.

WHO further wants awareness created about the negative health impact of trans fats among policymakers, producers, suppliers, and the public.

It further wants compliance with policies and regulations enforced.

WHO said several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food.

Elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO’s strategic plan.

The General Programme of Work is on the agenda of the 71st World Health Assembly that will be held in Geneva May 21 – 26.

As part of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has committed to reducing premature death from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

WHO said global elimination of industrially-produced trans fats can help achieve this goal.

Trans fats are from two main sources.

These are natural sources (in the dairy products and meat of ruminants such as cows and sheep) and industrially-produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils).

WHO recommends that the total trans fat intake be limited to less than 1 percent of total energy intake, which translates to less than 2.2 g/day with a 2,000-calorie diet.

Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21 percent and deaths by 28 percent.

Replacing trans fats with unsaturated fatty acids decreases the risk of heart disease, in part, by ameliorating the negative effects of trans fats on blood lipids.

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