World Health Organization leads push to universally ban trans fats

French fries are some of the products containing more trans-fat levels

French fries are some of the products containing more trans-fat levels

The World Health Organization is calling on all nations to rid foods of artificial trans fats in the next five years. WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg said, "Banning trans-fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives". Food manufacturers need to reformulate products to contain close to zero trans fats.

"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. The WHO's main concern is countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia which still use products that contain trans fats excessively. Hydrogenated fats are basically vegetable oil which has an extra hydrogen atom attached to its molecules using industrial processes, resulting in a substance that hardens into solid fat at lower temperatures, as the FDA described them.

Vox: The new global plan to eliminate the most harmful fat in food, explained (Belluz/Collins, 5/14).

Several countries have already imposed limits on trans fats in packaged foods, with Denmark showing a decrease in cardiovascular deaths, the World Health Organization said.

In the U.S., New York City in 2006 banned restaurants from serving food with trans fats.

The agency estimates that every year trans-fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease.

He's right. Various studies have shown that both the bans in NY and Denmark noticeably reduced the rate of death from heart disease in just three years.

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.

Trans-fatty acids can also occur naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, etc).

Partially hydrogenated oils were first introduced into the food supply in the early 20th century as a replacement for butter and became more popular in the 1950s through the 1970s with the discovery of the negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids.

Yan Zong-hai (顏宗海), director of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital's Clinical Toxins Department, said that in addition to cardiovascular disease, worldwide studies show that artificial trans fats can also cause obesity, as well as increasing the risk of fatty liver and Alzheimer's disease. Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21 per cent and deaths by 28 per cent.

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