New plan to extend effort to eliminate trans fats globally

ImageCreditAudrey Helen Weber

ImageCreditAudrey Helen Weber

The initiative, launched May 14, will offer countries across the globe guidance on how to remove these artificial fats from their food, with an ultimate goal of worldwide eradication. A 2017 directive from the FSSAI had ordered all food safety commissioners in states to ensure that interesterified vegetable oils, fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils, fat spreads do contain no more than five percent trans fats. It's these "man-made" trans fat that the World Health Organization is coming for.

"The world is now setting its sights on today's leading killers - particularly heart disease, which kills more people than any other cause in nearly every country", said Frieden, president of Resolve to Save Lives, a New-York-based project of an organization called Vital Strategies. Those nations, however, picked up the habit initially thanks to Western food conglomerates - trans fats do occur in tiny natural quantities in meat and cheese (they're therefore thought to be far less harmful), but in the 1950s they became an industrial product manufactured for margarine, shortenings like Crisco, packaged pastries, and almost anything fried.

"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.

Frieden told reporters that New York City's success in banning trans fats from restaurants a decade ago proved that they "can be eliminated without changing the taste, availability or cost of great food". She said Nestle'; has eliminated these from 99.8% of fats and oils the company uses. Carbohydrates, sugar, salt, and saturated fats have all gotten a bad rap at some point, but none of them have become true villains in food-not like trans fat has.

Several rich countries have already virtually eliminated trans fats by putting limits on the amounts allowed in packaged foods. Oils containing trans fats are cheap, easy to produce, and often taste pretty good, therefore keeping them popular in lower-income countries - which is why the World Health Organization is pushing this plan and asking governments to phase out trans fats within five years.

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Which stands for REview dietary sources, Promote use of healthier fats, Legislate, Assess changes, Create awareness and Enforce. Naturally occurring TFAs are found in some animal products including butter, cheese and meat. 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.

The WHO is now pushing middle- and lower-income countries to pick up the fight, said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the WHO's Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.

Trans fat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease as it increases the bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowers the good (HDL) cholesterol levels in our blood.

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

It is an artificial oil commonly called trans fat. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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