Friday, 21 September, 2018


Health officials launch ambitious plan to rid the world of trans fats

Representative image Representative image
Patty Aguilar | 16 May, 2018, 07:18

In a dramatic move that has only been reserved for saving the public from communicable diseases in the past, the World Health Organization has called for a world-wide ban on trans fats in the next five years.

In the wake of the WHO alarm bells on increasing deaths due to trans fats, doctors say that more and more people are facing health problems because of the consumption of trans fats in large quantities.

Artificial trans fats are more popular because they have a longer shelf life.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, has stated that the world health agency has requested many countries to make use of the REPLACE action plan for removing trans-fatty acids from the food supply.

The WHO on Tuesday released REPLACE, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.

Trans fats produced by industrial means were first introduced into the United States food supply in the 1950's and has resulted in an epidemic of heart disease.

Dr Ravi Shankar, senior gastroenterologist, said, "Trans fats are mainly found in fast foods and if they are consumed in higher quantities, they lead to premature death and accumulation of fats in one's blood vessels which can even lead to cerebral palsy". They insist that healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food and would represent a major victory in the global fight against heart disease. "But in the last three or four years, most big food companies have stopped using trans fats", she said. "In South Asian countries, they have very, very high risk of heart disease and high intakes of trans fats", Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the Nutrition for Health Department at the WHO, emphasized in his statement.

Denmark is the only country restrictions on trans fats.

Yan Zong-hai (顏宗海), director of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital's Clinical Toxins Department, said that in addition to cardiovascular disease, worldwide studies show that artificial trans fats can also cause obesity, as well as increasing the risk of fatty liver and Alzheimer's disease.

There are two main sources for trans fats: natural sources (in the dairy products and meat of ruminants, such as cows and sheep); and industrially produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils). Nevertheless, the country has the opportunity to address its health and economics by supporting more locally produced oils.

Former New York mayor and creator of the city's trans fat ban Michael Bloomberg likened the REPLACE plan to the highly-effective anti-tobacco campaigns that ran in the latter half of the 20th century.

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