The World Health Organization has developed a strategic plan which will completely remove trans fat from the global food supply in the next five years. The United Nations agency has previously tried to put a stop to infectious diseases. This time around, they're trying to eliminate a hazard associated with chronic illness.
The World Health Organization determined that approximately 500,000 people die of heart disease every year caused by eating trans fat. The U.N. health agency made a statement last Monday which said that eradicating trans fats is extremely important to preventing deaths all around the world. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, stated “It’s a crisis level, and it’s major front in our fight now.”
Because many countries have already taken the initiative to eliminate trans fats, officials predict the process will only take 5 years. In 2003, Denmark was one of the first countries to start banning trans fats. Since Denmark started making changes, more than 40 other higher-income countries, including the United States, have started setting regulations and restrictions to help eliminate trans fats from their foods. Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, said that they are trying to get lower- and middle-income countries to jump on the bandwagon and help contribute to the fight against trans fats.
Artificial trans fats are formed when hydrogen is combined with vegetable oil. This happens when something is made solid, such as margarine. Health experts are suggesting to replace them with canola oil or other similar products. Trans fats are also found in certain dairy products and meats.
“Trans fats are a harmful compound that can be removed easily without major cost and without any impact on the quality of the foods,” said Branca. Experts are suggesting that the most effective way to make this transition is to use regulation and legislation to get food makers to change their ways.
Rocco Rinaldi, secretary-general of the International Food and Beverage Alliance, said “We call on food producers in our sector to take prompt action and we stand ready to support effective measures to work toward the elimination of industrially produced trans fats and ensure a level playing field in this area.” A representative from a leading food industry trade group said that many companies are doing their part by minimizing the number of trans fats in their products.
Frieden, a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “The world is now setting its sights on today’s leading killers — particularly heart disease, which kills more people than any other cause in almost every country”. This unprecedented plan set out by the WHO has the potential to have a major impact on the overall health of all people.