Trans Fats Put on Chopping Block by UN Health Agency

The public health arm of the United Nations said it will urge governments to ban or restrict those fats and replace them with healthier fats and oils. They occur naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy, but they are also created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it solid. These fats are used in snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and in products that contain vegetable shortening, coffee creamer, margarine, and ready-to-use frosting. They raise bad (LDL) cholesterol level and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels, which increases risk of heart disease and stroke.

L egislate or enact regulations to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.

The FDA already has taken steps toward eliminating trans fats from foods in the U.S. In 2015, the federal agency gave food companies three years to cut artificial trans fats with partially hydrogenated oils from processed foods.

Food makers tend to like artificial trans fats because they prolong product shelf life.

The United States' FDA determined that trans fats were "not generally recognized as safe" in November 2013. It estimated that every year, trans-fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular diseases. The world is now embarking on the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, using it as a driver for improved access to healthy food and nutrition.

The WHO recommends that no more than 1 percent of a person's calories come from trans fats.

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

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World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "WHO calls on governments to use the Replace action package to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids from the food supply".

By the 1970s and 80s, a number of health researchers had started to realise these fats might be increasing disease risk - though research indicating this was often suppressed by the food industry, as Julia Belluz reported for Vox.

"The removal of trans fats from the food supply as an additive counts as one of the major public health victories of the last decade", said Laura MacCleery, policy director for the Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?" asks Dr Tedros.

"The bottom line here is that this the beginning of the end for industrially produced trans fats", said Tom Frieden, who heads the Resolve to Save Lives advocacy group, which has partnered with World Health Organization on the push to eliminate the products. Also, this is the first time the WHO, or any global health organization, has proposed a ban on a dietary component.

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

It's also important to note here that Australian manufacturers are not required to declare TFAs on food labels, however, it is compulsory if the manufacturer makes a nutrition content claim about cholesterol or saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-3, omega-6 or omega-9 fatty acids.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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