World Health Organization calls for trans fats to be eliminated within five years

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

Trans fats are popular with manufacturers of fried, baked and snack foods because they have a long shelf life, but they are bad for consumers, increasing heart disease risk by 21 percent and deaths by 28 percent, a World Health Organization statement said.

Artificial trans fat or trans-fatty acids are produced in a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

"The removal of trans fats from the food supply as an additive counts as one of the major public health victories of the last decade", said Laura MacCleery, policy director for the Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest. They do not spoil as quickly as other fats, but they can have some harmful health effects. According to estimates compiled by World Health Organization, the consumption of trans fats leads to over 500,000 deaths due to severe heart ailments. In June, all products sold in the United States must be free of industrially produced trans-fats.

Action is needed in low- and middle-income countries, where controls of use of industrially produced trans fats are often weaker, to ensure that the benefits are felt equally around the world, Ghebreyesus said. Denmark was the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans-fats in 2004. Seemingly though, medical experts are of the view that healthier product substitutes that will not affect the food tastes or costs can be effectively utilized in their place. The agency gave the industry three years to phase out PHOs.

REPLACE urges countries to assess and monitor trans fats consumption, establish laws to stamp out trans fats and raises awareness of their risk.

Dr. Tom Frieden, CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, has declared that NY has become the first state in the USA that has followed the footsteps of Denmark by eliminating trans-fats a decade ago. Many dairy and meat products contain trans fats that have also been linked to heart disease.

Partially hydrogenated oils were first introduced into the food supply in the early 20th century as a replacement for butter and became more popular in the 1950s through the 1970s with the discovery of the negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids.

The WHO estimates that foods containing trans fats are the cause of 500,000 premature deaths worldwide every year by contributing to heart disease and heart attacks. Partially hydrogenated oils are primarily used for deep frying and as an ingredient in baked goods; they can be replaced in both. Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21 per cent and deaths by 28 per cent.