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World Health Organization plans to eliminate trans fats from food by 2023

16 May 2018, 11:15 | Winifred Adams

Representative image

Representative image

The World Health Organisation intends to stop the global supply of trans fats by 2023.

Eliminating these fats is the "key to protecting health and saving lives", it said, in a statement.

"Trans-fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there's no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed", said Tom Frieden, a former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control who now leads the Resolve health initiative.

Introduced into the food supply in earlier 20th century, the partially hydrogenated oils were welcomed by food companies to produce fried foods and baked goods, among others, since this kind of oil was cheap, easy to use as well as had a long shelf-life. "But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food", The global health body said in the statement.

Spencer Green, FileThe Obama administration's FDA put a ban on trans fats in place in the United States that will go into full effect soon.

According to the USDA, a reduction in trans fat could prevent almost 30,000 premature deaths in the USA every year.

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Trans fats should be less than 1 per cent of the total count (less than 2.2gm per day in a 2,000 calorie); both fats must be replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fat. Multinational food producers that have switched away from trans fat products can help local producers make the move to healthier oils, according to the WHO. Hydrogenated fats are basically vegetable oil which has an extra hydrogen atom attached to its molecules using industrial processes, resulting in a substance that hardens into solid fat at lower temperatures, as the FDA described them.

But studies gradually revealed that trans fats wreck cholesterol levels in the blood and drive up the risk of heart disease.

REPLACE urges countries to assess and monitor trans fats consumption, establish laws to stamp out trans fats and raises awareness of their risk. In addition, there are indications that trans fat may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

Trans fats also occur naturally in some foods such as meat and milk products. In 2004, Denmark became the first country to completely outlaw trans fats, and other countries have been getting on board more recently.

Willett, who was an early voice in the fight against trans fats, further explains that the low cost of a full transition to much healthier fats when taken into account the vast payoff of the move should make the idea a no-brainer.



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