The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to eliminate artificial trans fats from the global food supply chain by 2023 in a move to combat cardiovascular disease.
According to the WHO, trans fat intake leads to the death of more than 500,000 people from cardiovascular disease each year.
Industrially produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But the WHO stressed that healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food.
The WHO today published an initiative called Replace which provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “WHO calls on governments to use the Replace action package to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids from the food supply.
“Implementing the six strategic actions in the Replace package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease.”
Several high-income countries have reduced industrially produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats.
The WHO drew attention to Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially produced trans fats, where trans fat content of food products declined dramatically.
WHO global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases Michael Bloomberg said: “Banning trans fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks without changing the taste or cost of food, and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives.
“A comprehensive approach to tobacco control allowed us to make more progress globally over the last decade than almost anyone thought possible – now, a similar approach to trans fat can help us make that kind of progress against cardiovascular disease, another of the world’s leading causes of preventable death.”
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