World Health Organisation (WHO) says five billion people globally remain unprotected from harmful trans-fat, increasing their risk of heart disease and death as Nigeria is considering putting trans fat elimination policy in place in 2023.
Trans fat, or trans-fatty acids, are unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources.
WHO, in a report published on Monday, stated that 43 countries had now implemented best-practice policies for tackling trans fat in food, with 2.8 billion people protected globally.
The report-Countdown to 2023 WHO Report on global trans fat elimination 2022- is an annual status report published by WHO in collaboration with Resolve to Save Lives, to track progress towards the goal of trans fat elimination in 2023.
“If passed, Nigeria would be the second and most populous country in Africa to put a best-practice trans fat elimination policy in place.
“Also, best-practice policies are also being considered in Mexico and Sri Lanka in 2023.
“No low-income countries have yet adopted a best-practice policy to eliminate trans fat.”
In 2023, WHO recommends that countries focus on these four areas: adopting best-practice policy, monitoring and surveillance, healthy oil replacements and advocacy.
WHO guidance has been developed to help countries make rapid advances in these areas.
WHO also encourages food manufacturers to eliminate industrially produced trans fat from their products, aligning to the commitment made by the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA).
Major suppliers of oils and fats are asked to remove industrially produced trans fat from the products sold to food manufacturers globally.
The report, called Countdown to 2023 WHO Report on global trans fat elimination 2022, is an annual status report published by WHO in collaboration with Resolve to Save Lives, to track progress towards the goal of trans fat elimination in 2023.
WHO first called for the global elimination of industrially produced trans fat in 2018 – with an elimination target set for 2023 – population coverage of best-practice policies has increased almost six-fold.
Despite substantial progress, however, this still leaves five billion worldwide at risk from trans fat’s devastating health impacts with the global goal for its total elimination in 2023 remaining unattainable at this time.
Industrially produced trans fat (also called industrially produced trans-fatty acids) is commonly found in packaged foods, baked goods, cooking oils and spreads.
Trans fat intake is responsible for up to 500,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year around the world.
“Trans fat has no known benefit, and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems,” WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said.