• Saturday, Nov 26, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Remove and replace

  • Published at 06:30 am June 1st, 2018
Saving lives, saving money Photo: BIGSTOCK

Eliminating trans fats could save billions of dollars for developing countries

On May 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on all countries to make the world free of trans fats by 2023. 

A number of countries have already accomplished this, including a range of middle and lower-income countries worldwide that have heavily restricted or eliminated trans fats altogether. 

They do so with good reason. 

Industrially produced trans fats are artificial compounds formed by “partial hydrogenation of edible oils” that are harmful when consumed, even at low levels. 

In the Southeast Asia region, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs) are the primary source of trans fats in food items.

Commercial food production, particularly with regard to bakery products such as biscuits and pastries, use high amounts of PHVOs, thus increasing the risk of trans fat consumption. 

Changing food patterns and the popularity of processed foods is likely to increase trans fat intake. Likewise, high levels of trans fat have also been found elsewhere, especially in food produced by informal vendors. Trans fats dramatically increase the risk of heart attacks.

Replacing oils containing high trans fats with healthier options will have no impact on the taste or availability of food, and will dramatically advance health and wellbeing.

It will also help achieve WHO Southeast Asia’s regional target and flagship priority of reducing non-communicable diseases by one-fourth by 2025, and then by one-third by 2030, as per the Sustainable Development Goal targets.

Mustard, sunflower, rapeseed (canola), ground nut, and soya-based oils are all healthier alternatives. These crops are valuable, efficient, and in high demand. 

Importantly, the increased growth, production, and use of these crops will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and align the region with the global drive to restrict trans fats, and save millions of lives at virtually no cost to government or consumers. 

To that end, WHO’s six-step REPLACE action package -- launched last week in Geneva -- provides all countries with proven tools to completely eliminate trans fats from their national food supply and counter increasingly changing food patterns. 

At present, 90% of people around the world -- about 6.5 billion -- are exposed to these artery-clogging substances, with little to no government support or alternatives offered. WHO’s REPLACE package aims to accelerate restrictions on trans fat products via an easy six-step process. Each of these steps can be readily embraced, implemented, and enforced, with game-changing effect.

First is reviewing dietary sources of trans fats and the landscape required for policy change. Second is promoting the replacement of trans fats with healthier fats and oils. Third is legislating or enacting regulatory actions to eliminate trans fats. 

Fourth is assessing and monitoring trans fat content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population. Fifth is creating awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy-makers, producers, suppliers, and the public. And sixth is enforcing compliance with policies and regulations.

If implemented effectively, the package will ensure prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of trans fats from the world’s food supply, thereby driving down demand. 

That is a good that will give many times over, saving billions of dollars in both developed and developing economies, and slashing the rate of premature deaths worldwide. 

But making that happen requires more than goodwill -- it requires a willingness to act, and to do so decisively.

WHO’s new guidelines provide the opportunity and incentive to replace oils high in trans fats region-wide with locally made, healthy alternatives.

That opportunity should be grasped, and a return to better known, traditional alternatives embraced. 

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh is  Regional Director WHO Southeast Asia Region.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail