WHO calls to eliminate trans fat in foods
| The World Health Organization wants to eliminate artificial trans fats from the global food supply and has a step by step strategy on how to do so by 2023 …
(By Jacqueline Howard, CNN) On Monday, the WHO launched an initiative called REPLACE that will provide guidance for all countries on how to remove artificial trans fats from their foods, possibly leading to a worldwide eradication.
“This initiative is meant to lead countries in establishing legislation to eliminate the trans fats,” said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland.
Artificial trans fats, or trans fatty acids, are made when vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation.
Those hydrogenated fats can be used in fried foods, snack foods or baked goods, and in products such as vegetable shortening, stick margarine, coffee creamer and ready-to-use frostings.
They don’t spoil as quickly as other fats, but they can have some harmful health effects, such as raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
UN seeking to “legislate and enforce”
“There are countries where the risk is particularly high. In South Asian countries, they have very, very high risk of heart disease and high intakes of trans fats,” Branca said.
“There are some Latin American countries, but they’re already taking action. Mexico was a country where the intake was very high,” he said. “South Africa was having problems, but then they established legislation. It is happening in more countries in the Middle East, but the information we have is limited.”
REPLACE stands for review dietary sources, promote use of healthier fats, legislate, assess changes, create awareness and enforce. Read the full story at CNN.
Additional coverage from Voice of America …
WHO Plan is “unprecedented”
(VOA) There may be something in your food that you cannot see and cannot taste. But it could be killing you.
It is an artificial oil commonly called trans fat.
“Trans fat is a toxic chemical that has been added to our food supply and accounts for an estimated more than 500,000 deaths every year.”
That is Dr. Tom Frieden. He is head of the public health organization Resolve to Save Lives. He was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States from 2009 to 2017.
On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a plan to help countries remove trans fats from the world’s food supply within the next five years.
Frieden says the move is unprecedented.
“This is the first time there has ever been an elimination program to get rid of — not an infectious disease like polio or small pox — but a non-communicable disease, in this case the risk factor for heart attacks that trans fat causes.
This is an unprecedented move. And it’s really important that government and communities around the world replace artificial trans fats with healthier oils.”
What is artificial trans fat?
Artificial trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. Food makers use this low-priced oil so food will stay fresh longer.
“Although trans fats extend the shelf life of food, we think the priority should be the length and health of human life. That’s more important than the shelf life of food. There are alternatives to industrially produced trans fats.”
Trans fat can be found in foods such as donuts, cakes, cookies and deep-fried foods. Baked goods that sit on grocery shelves for many months but still remain soft and moist usually contain trans fat. This is because the oil remains solid at room temperature. And Frieden says this is why it is dangerous to eat.
“Trans fat is tasteless. It’s solid at room temperature, but it’s also solid at body temperature in your coronary arteries.”
Studies have found that trans fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.
High-income countries have either banned these artificial fats or are in the process of banning them because of their connection to heart disease. The Associated Press news agency says more than 40 high-income countries have been working on eliminating trans fats from foods.
Denmark banned trans fats in their food 15 years ago. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called for food makers to stop using it by June 2018.
The World Health Organization is urging governments of low- and middle-income countries to do the same. Experts at the WHO say that three-quarters of the world’s deaths from cardiovascular disease happen in low- and middle-income countries.
Where trans fats have been banned, heart attacks and deaths from heart disease have dropped greatly.
The WHO plan calls on governments to take specific steps. They include replacing trans fats with healthier oils such as olive oil, creating public awareness of the harms of trans fats, and enforcing anti-trans fat policies and laws.
If people stop eating products made with trans fats, more than 17 million lives could be saved over the next 25 years. Also a major source of heart disease will be eliminated.
And that’s the Health and Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo. Carol Pearson reported this story for VOA News in Washington. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English with additional reporting from the AP. Hai Do was the editor.