WHO report half of the world follow doctors’ orders on cutting trans fats

Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau
UNITED NATIONS, 25th June.
World health agency on Monday said that 53 countries had best practice policies in place to tackle industrial trans fats in food as of last year, vastly improving the food environment for 3.7 billion people, or 46 per cent of the world’s population, according to report published by the WHO.

The report stated that this is significant progress compared to the 2018 figure of 6% or less than half a billion people, when the ambitious target to eliminate all trans fat from the global food supply by the end of 2023 was initially set by WHO.

Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety at WHO said “Trans fat elimination is attainable, affordable and life-saving, and WHO remains committed to supporting Member States in their journeys towards this goal”.

According to WHO, trans fats or trans-fatty acids clog arteries, increasing risk of heart attack and death. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the world and more than 278,000 deaths per year can be attributed to intake of industrially produced trans fat.

The agency noted that given their negative health effectsthe current advancements made could save approximately 183,000 lives per year.

The progress has been unequal, with the highest remaining burden concentrated in the WHO Africa and Western Pacific Regions.

The new report summarizes country actions to ban this toxic chemical and make recommendations to achieve global trans fat elimination.

It stressed that remarkable progress has been made in every region of the world towards the WHO’s goal of total elimination of industrially produced trans fats.

The chemicals are fatty acids that can be found in many fried foods, baked goods, vegetable shortening and margarine.

In 2023 new best practice policies became effective in Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Philippines, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

In January 2024, WHO awarded five countries the Validation Certificate for progress in eliminating industrially produced trans fat: Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

WHO warned that despite promising trends, progress has been uneven.

Over 4 billion people around the world remain unprotected from this toxic chemical, mainly in the WHO African and Western Pacific Regions.

Implementing best practice policies in just eight additional countries would eliminate 90 per cent of the global deaths associated with this harmful ingredient, it said.

Dr. Baraca said that tp ensure that compliance with these policies is monitored and enforced will be critical to achieve maximized and sustained health benefits of trans fat elimination.”

WHO new report helps to further the organization’s efforts towards global trans fat elimination.

It urged all countries to enact best practice policies and to better monitor and enforce these policies so that more countries may become eligible for the WHO Validation Certificate.

WHO called on food manufacturers to eliminate the use of trans fats in product lines and supply chains, even where regulations are not yet in place.

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