World Health Organization Calls for Universal Ban on Trans Fats

Milky Way candy bar is deep-fried in oil free of trans fats at a food booth at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Indiana was the first state to require the switch at its state fair. (AP

Trans fats are still commonly sold in countries throughout South Asia and Africa, where weaker regulations and stronger pressure by food producers have kept partially hydrogenated oils in circulation.

Multinational companies that make trans fats and have used them as ingredients said they have largely eliminated those oils from foods in the USA, parts of Europe and Canada, where governments already restrict their use. Trans fats have also been linked to raising levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and increasing the chance of getting heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The World Health Organisation on Monday released a guide recommending six strategic actions for the elimination of industrially-produced trans fatty acids from the global food supply, cautioning that trans fats contribute to over 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases every year.

"New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans fat a decade ago, following Denmark's lead", said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. Branda is pushing for middle and lower-income countries to pick up the fight in eliminating trans fats.

Heart attacks and strokes fell by more than 6 percent three years after some NY counties banned trans fats, researchers reported last year. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats.

Switzerland, Britain, Canada, and the United States have all already moved to ban trans fats, and Thailand is expected to make a similar decree in the next month, according to the New York Times.

"Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21 percent and deaths by 28 percent", World Health Organization said. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food. Mondelez, the maker of Oreo, thinks its products will be free of partially hydrogenated oil - trans fat - by year's end, and Nestlé tells The Wall Street Journal that it's cut trans fats by 99.8 percent, and expects to soon reach "complete removal" of any kind derived from PHOs.

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"Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?" adds Dr Tedros.

What is artificial trans fat?

Trans fat can be found in foods such as donuts, cakes, cookies and deep-fried foods.

"WHO calls on governments to. eliminate industrially-produced trans fatty acids from the food supply", World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media release issued in Geneva.

"The removal of trans fats from the food supply as an additive counts as one of the major public health victories of the last decade", said Laura MacCleery, policy director for the Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest. Also, this is the first time the WHO, or any worldwide health organization, has proposed a ban on a dietary component.

The WHO pointed out that several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally-imposed limits on the amount that can be present in packaged food. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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