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World Health Organization Seeks Ban Of Unhealthy Trans Fats

16 May 2018

World Health Organization calls for elimination of trans fat in foods by 2023 (Howard, 5/14). Food manufacturers need to reformulate products to contain close to zero trans fats.

Artificial trans fat or trans-fatty acids are produced in a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Health advocates say trans fats are the most harmful fat in the food supply.

For the record, products such as ghee and margarine contain industrially-manufactured fats, which are found in fried and baked foods. They are often present in frying oils, fried snacks, margarine and shortening since trans fat-based oils have a longer shelf life (don't worry, Canada has almost phased them out entirely in those products).

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.

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Trans fats are linked to an estimated 500,000 deaths worldwide per year. But healthier alternatives that will not affect taste or cost of food can be used, the World Health Organization said.

He's right. Various studies have shown that both the bans in NY and Denmark noticeably reduced the rate of death from heart disease in just three years.

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.

REPLACE urges countries to assess and monitor trans fats consumption, establish laws to stamp out trans fats and raises awareness of their risk.

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There are two main sources for trans fats: natural sources (in the dairy products and meat of ruminants, such as cows and sheep); and industrially produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils).

Action is needed in low and middle-income countries, where controls of use of industrially-produced trans fats are often weaker, to ensure that the benefits are felt equally around the world, the WHO statement said.

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. Partially hydrogenated oils are primarily used for deep frying and as an ingredient in baked goods; they can be replaced in both.

The United States Food and Drug Administration reports that as many as 7,000 fatalities and 20,000 heart attacks can be prevented by the reduction of trans fats in the American diet.

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World Health Organization Seeks Ban Of Unhealthy Trans Fats