The World Doesn't Need Trans Fats


"Elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO's strategic plan, the draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) which will guide the work of World Health Organization in 2019 - 2023.

Multinational companies that make trans fats and have used them as ingredients said they have largely eliminated those oils from foods in the U.S., parts of Europe and Canada, where governments already restrict their use.

Moreover, it's possible to eliminate trans fats without changing the flavor of food, so even if you haven't already been eating this way, you probably won't know the difference. "But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food", according to the news release announcing the initiative.

In the U.S., New York City in 2006 banned restaurants from serving food with trans fats. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats. "Numerous fats are in foods or oils made by local producers", Betsy McKay and Jacob Bunge write for the Wall Street Journal.

In a statement Monday, the United Nations health agency said eliminating trans fats is critical to preventing deaths worldwide.

"Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food", World Health Organization said.

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That's why the W.H.O. also has long urged countries to issue nutritional guidelines that advise people to avoid trans fats.

REPLACE is the product of an agency with 7,000 people working in offices in 150 countries and, as such, is not one of those acronyms whose meaning is immediately apparent like, say, LOL.

Countries will likely have to use regulation or legislation to get food makers to make the switch, experts said.

Trans fats are finding their way onto too many plates, and they need to be eliminated - ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease have become first and second causes of premature mortality, and the majority of these cases occur in low and middle-income countries. But trans fats remain widely used where regulators and food makers have been slower to take action. "Therefore, they are a euphemism for snack and other foods containing them". "But studies gradually revealed that trans fats wreck cholesterol levels in the blood and drive up the risk of heart disease".

Many manufacturers cut back, and studies showed trans fat levels in the blood of middle-aged US adults fell by almost 60 percent by the end of the decade.

Originally popularized after the negative impacts of saturated fatty acids were discovered, trans fats have fallen out of favor as their own health effects have gained prominence. In the decades that followed, food companies began incorporating partially hydrogenated oil into their products because it increased the shelf life of baked goods and facilitated an easier way to make buyer-friendly food textures.