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World Health Organization calls for a global ban on trans fats

15 May 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged all countries to get rid of trans fats in their food supply, with laws banning them if necessary.

The initiative, launched May 14, will offer countries across the globe guidance on how to remove these artificial fats from their food, with an ultimate goal of worldwide eradication. So until that time, you're not completely guaranteed to be avoiding trans fats - make sure to double check your food labels (anything listed as "partially-hydrogenated oil" is a trans fat).

Heart disease - the leading cause of death worldwide- accounts for 610,000 deaths, or a quarter of all deaths, in the USA every year, according to the government.

Multinational companies that make trans fats and have used them as ingredients said they have largely eliminated those oils from foods in the United States, parts of Europe and Canada, where governments already restrict their use.

Eliminating industrially produced trans fats is also expected to help the World Health Organization achieve its goal of attaining a 33 percent reduction in premature death from noncommunicable diseases by 2030.

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The WHO said action against trans fats is needed in low-income and middle-income countries where controls of use of industrially-produced trans fats are weaker than those in many high-income countries.

That's also probably why, for this initiative, WHO is partnering with Tom Frieden, the NY health commissioner who got the trans-fat ban passed. In the developed parts of the world, trans fats are becoming rarer and rarer. In fact, nutritionists recommend that trans fat should make up just 1 percent of your overall diet, while others say that it shouldn't be present in your diet at all.

Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food.

According to WHO, REPLACE provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans-fats from food supply.

REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change.

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Monday's statement also quotes former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as touting his administration's successful campaign against trans fats.

The agency also called on the government to put in place legislation or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fats. But trans fats remain widely used where regulators and food makers have been slower to take action.

"Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there's no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed", President of Resolve to Save Lives Tom Frieden said.

The step-by-step strategy is being called 'REPLACE'. 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.

"Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?" asked Dr Tedros. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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World Health Organization calls for a global ban on trans fats