World Health Organization calls for removal of trans fat in food supply by 2023

Posted May 17, 2018

Officials think it can be done in five years because the work is well under way in many countries. Denmark was the first country to ban trans fats in 2013.

WHO is now encouraging low- and middle-income countries to join the movement, said Dr Francesco Branca, director of WHO's nutrition, health and development department. The campaign involved six steps including reviewing the dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fat, its replacement with healthier fats and oils and legislation to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat.

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

The WHO recommends that no more than 1% of a person's calories come from trans fats.

The measure was authorized under the regulation on the use of hydrogenated oils in food products the government promulgated in 2016, it said.

Dr Ravi Shankar, senior gastroenterologist, said, "Trans fats are mainly found in fast foods and if they are consumed in higher quantities, they lead to premature death and accumulation of fats in one's blood vessels which can even lead to cerebral palsy".

In some places, partially hydrogenated oils have already been banned, cutting off one of the main sources of commercially produced trans fats from their food supply, according to the World Health Organization via Reuters.

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Tom Friedman, the former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who worked with World Health Organization on the issue, said it was an unprecedented intervention.

"New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans fat a decade ago, following Denmark's lead", said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.

In the USA, the first trans fatty food to hit the market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911. They became popular in the 1950s through 1970s with the discovery of the negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids.

The United States Food and Drug Administration set a three-year compliance period in July of 2015 that said companies either had to make their products without partially hydrogenated oils or petition to be allowed to use them. They used them in doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods. Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21 per cent and deaths by 28 per cent. Health advocates say trans fats are the most harmful fat in the food supply.

As per sources, numerous developed nations have already removed trans-fats from the food supply, imposing legal restrictions on packaged food. The same year the FDA required manufacturers to list trans fat content information on food labels.

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