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Health officials launch ambitious plan to rid the world of trans fats
16 May 2018, 06:35 | Randall Craig
World Health Organization logo
Health advocates say trans fats are the most harmful fat in the food supply, and say they play a big role in more than 500,000 deaths around the world each year.
"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. But healthier alternatives, which are generally more expensive, can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food. In India, that number is pegged at about 60,000 deaths, said Tom Frieden, former Head of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention told Business Line, speaking from Geneva.
Trans fats should be less than 1 per cent of the total count (less than 2.2gm per day in a 2,000 calorie); both fats must be replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fat.
Willett, who was an early voice in the fight against trans fats, further explains that the low cost of a full transition to much healthier fats when taken into account the vast payoff of the move should make the idea a no-brainer. For the record, Denmark had set an example for other nations by becoming the first to take an initiative of restricting the use of industrially manufactured trans-fats in food supply. Trans fatty foods became increasingly popular beginning in the 1950s, partly because experts at the time thought they were healthier than cooking with butter or lard.
Due to its longer shelf life and other characteristics, hydrogenated oil is commonly added to baked goods, snacks, deep-fried fare and cold pastries, and dough, like frozen pizza and cinnamon rolls.
Replacing trans fats with unsaturated fatty acids decreases the risk of heart disease, in part, by ameliorating the negative effects of trans fats on blood lipids.
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. In addition, there are indications that trans fat may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.
In Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans fats, the trans fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly than in comparable OECD countries.
For the record, products such as ghee and margarine contain industrially-manufactured fats, which are found in fried and baked foods.
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