World Health Organization wants trans fats in food eliminated

World Health Organization wants trans fats in food eliminated

They do not spoil as quickly as other fats, but they can have some harmful health effects. Food manufacturers need to reformulate products to contain close to zero trans fats. It can be hard to change some of the behaviors that lead to those deaths - but that doesn't stop researchers from trying to get people to exercise and eat more vegetables.

Several countries, particularly the richer ones, have already limited or are on the verge of eliminating trans fats in packaged foods.

Back in the 1970s, Dr. Willett was one of the first researchers to sound the alarm about trans fats, a stance that earned him scorn from the food industry and even fellow nutritionists.

"The world is now setting its sights on today's leading killers — particularly heart disease, which kills more people than any other cause in nearly every country", said Frieden, who is president of a New-York-based philanthropy-funded project called Resolve to Save Lives.

Trans fats increase the levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile.

The WHO estimates that foods containing trans fats are the cause of 500,000 premature deaths worldwide every year by contributing to heart disease and heart attacks.

Researchers starting suggesting these fats might be risky based on signs of their accumulation in autopsies in the late 1950s.


In the draft guidelines, open for public comments till June 1, the global health body defined the healthy intake of saturated and trans fats to prevent cardiovascular disease - reduce the intake of saturated fats to less than 10 per cent of your daily calorie count, it said. It worked, with death rates from cardiovascular disease falling faster there than in comparable countries.

Food companies will need to be given time to transition to the healthier alternative, Frieden said, recalling his experience as former New York City Health Commissioner, when restaurants took up to six months to transition. Then, in 2006, New York City passed a law banning trans fats, phasing them out of the city by the summer of 2008.

The first trans fatty food to hit the USA market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911. Denmark was the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans-fats in 2004.

The WHO's new policy can't actually ban trans fats in these countries.

Industrially produced trans-fats are found in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine, and often in snacks, baked and fried foods.

It's possible that within five years, a risky substance that increases death rates won't be in use anymore.

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