Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

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

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

"Elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO's strategic plan, the draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) which will guide the work of World Health Organization in 2019 - 2023.

Heart and circulatory disease kills 160,000 people in the United Kingdom each year - with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people dying as a result of chronic conditions caused by consuming trans fat, said Prof Capewell.

WHO calls on governments to implement the six strategic actions: review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change; promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils; legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats; assess and monitor trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population; create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public; and enforce compliance of policies and regulations.

Those hydrogenated fats are often used in processed foods or baked goods, because they don't spoil as quickly as other fats.

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Denmark completed the process 15 years ago.

It said excessive amounts of saturated fat and trans fats should be replaced by polyunsaturated fats, such as fish, canola and olive oils.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus scheduled a Monday news conference in Geneva to discuss the topic, meanwhile, taking a page from how the group campaigned against infectious diseases years earlier.

"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.

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Trans fat, AKA "partially hydrogenated oil", was once seen as something of a savior in food, especially in the US. As part of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has committed to reducing premature death from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

World Health Organization laid out a six-point route for getting rid of trans fats that includes encouraging the replacement of trans fats with healthier vegetable oils and legislating to make it harder to use them.

"The first trans fatty food to hit the USA market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911". "What we found in New York City was that industry wasn't really willing to fight us on this", Frieden said, Howard writes, because artificial trans fats are "easily replaceable". Trans fatty foods became increasingly popular beginning in the 1950s, partly because experts at the time thought they were healthier than cooking with butter or lard.

By 2010, trans fat levels in the blood of middle-aged USA adults dropped by almost 60 percent. They used them in doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods. A misconception that the products were healthier than butter or lard led to surge in popularity that peaked in 1950s, but studies gradually revealed a link between trans fats and unsafe cholesterol levels in the blood.

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While the majority of products in Europe and the longer contain trans fats, the rest of the world continues to use them and suffer the negative health outcomes. It is unclear how much progress has been made or how the rule will be enforced against noncompliant food makers.

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