WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) released REPLACE, a step-by-step guide for eliminating industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply, today.
- WHO estimates that trans-fat intake leads to more than half a million deaths from cardiovascular disease every year.
- Eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats can help achieve the global community’s commitment to reducing death from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, called on governments to help implement REPLACE, stating that the elimination of trans-fat will “represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease.”
REPLACE’s six strategic actions ensure a complete, prompt, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply:
REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fats and the landscape for required policy change.
Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans-fats with healthier fats and oils.
Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fats.
Assess and monitor trans-fats content in the food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population.
Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans-fats among policymakers, producers, suppliers, and the public.
Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.
Industrially-produced trans-fats are found in hardened vegetable fats such as margarine, which is often present in fried foods, snacks, and baked foods often used because of their longer shelf life. There are healthier alternatives, however, that would not affect cost or taste.
Several high-income countries have already virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans-fats by legally imposing limits on the amount contained in packaged food. Some have nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans-fats.
In Denmark, the first country with mandated restrictions on industrially-produced trans-fats, cardiovascular disease deaths have declined quickly.
Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, said, “New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans-fat a decade ago, following Denmark’s lead. Trans-fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there’s no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed.”
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases, stated: “Banning trans fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks without changing the taste or cost of food, and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives.”
Meanwhile, further action is needed in low- and middle-income countries to ensure that benefits are equally felt around the world.
Dr. Tedros stated, “Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods? 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. WHO is also using this milestone to work with governments, the food industry, academia and civil society to make food systems healthier for future generations, including by eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats.”