trans fats
trans fats

WHO Urges Global Action on Trans Fats as Countries Make Strides

In a recent announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for increased efforts from countries worldwide to enforce stringent regulations on trans fats in food products. As of now, nearly half of the global population is covered by solid rules limiting trans fats, but the WHO encourages lagging nations to catch up.

The World Health Organization established an aim of eliminating industrially generated fatty acids from foods worldwide by 2023, citing data that these fats cause 500,000 premature deaths per year.

WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the absence of proven health advantages linked with trans fats, saying, “Trans fat has no recognized health benefit, but enormous health dangers.”

He expressed satisfaction with the increasing number of countries adopting policies to limit or ban trans fats and highlighted the importance of such measures in safeguarding public health.

Seven countries, including Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, North Macedonia, the Philippines, and Ukraine, implemented best practice policies in 2023. To recognize progress, the WHO awarded certificates to Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand, the first countries to achieve the organization’s criteria for eliminating industrially-produced trans-fatty acids. Certified countries must consistently adhere to best practices, supported by rigorous monitoring and enforcement systems, with updated data submissions every three years.

Denmark’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ib Petersen, shared that policies adopted in Denmark have led to an 11% reduction in coronary heart disease, particularly benefiting financially disadvantaged groups. Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading global cause of death, with eliminating trans fats considered an effective strategy to reduce related mortality.

Former Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden, emphasized the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of eliminating trans fats, stating that it saves lives at virtually no cost to governments or consumers. He also cautioned against countries without regulations becoming trans fat “dumping grounds,” emphasizing the need for global collaboration in this health initiative.

What are Trans Fats?

Trans fats, or trans-fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that can have detrimental effects on health. They are created through an industrial process called hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oils into solid fats. Trans fats are often found in processed and fried foods, as well as some margarines.

 

Studies have demonstrated a clear link between trans fatty acids and various health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, shortened pregnancy duration, increased risks of preeclampsia, disorders affecting the nervous system and infant vision, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and allergies. They are considered less healthy than other fats, such as unsaturated fats found in olive oil or avocados.

 

Due to their negative health impact, many health organizations and authorities advocate for reducing or eliminating trans fats from the food supply. Some countries have implemented regulations to limit or ban the use of trans fats in food products to improve public health.

Source: Inputs from various media Sources

Priya Bairagi

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