Industrially produced trans fatty acids are responsible for half a million deaths annually from cardiovascular disease.
In 2018, the World Health Organization launched a multi-year campaign to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids from the global food supply. It is responsible for the deaths of half a million people annually due to cardiovascular diseases. Despite the progress made, the organization warns that what it described as “poison” still threatens 5 billion people.
Over the past five years, many high-income countries have already eliminated industrially produced trans fats thanks to legal restrictions on the amount of trans fats consumed in packaged foods, bringing the number to 43 by six.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that these fats are “a deadly poison, and should not be included in the diet, and the time has come to eliminate them once and for all.”
WHO launched the campaign in collaboration with Resolve to Save Lives, a non-governmental organization whose president, Tom Frieden, said during the presentation of the campaign’s annual report that “eliminating this fat could prevent 17 million deaths over the next 25 years.”
Frieden adds, “These are toxic chemicals that are added to our food without our knowledge, without our consent, and these materials remain solid when they reach our arteries.”
Francesco Branca, Director of Nutrition and Food Safety at the World Health Organization, confirmed that the geographical “war against trans fats” is progressing positively in most developed countries, with laws already passed against the toxin in the United States, Canada and much of the European Union.
Little by little, countries with medium development following similar policies, such as India, Argentina, Paraguay and the Philippines, are joining the campaign, and important economies such as Mexico and Nigeria are expected to join them this year.
The WHO essentially recommends two policies against these substances: a limit of two grams of industrial trans fats per hundred grams of total fat in all foods, and a ban on the production or use of partially hydrogenated oils in the food industry. It is one of the most important sources of these fats.
Among the countries that have not yet responded to the campaign are Egypt, Pakistan and South Korea, which are on the list of countries with the highest death rate due to coronary artery disease.
The World Health Organization adds that other countries that have not passed laws against trans fats are Australia, Ecuador and Iran.
On the other hand, Denmark was the first country to restrict the use of industrially produced trans fats, as the trans fat content of consumed food products decreased significantly and the death rate from cardiovascular diseases decreased more rapidly than in other OECD countries. .
Olive oil is the best alternative
For professionals, any oil, even those considered less beneficial to health, is a better substitute for these fats, although “it is better to switch to polyunsaturated oils”, among them olive, soybean, sesame, peanut, mustard or sunflower.
Experts stress the difference between trans fats and saturated fats that contain products like butter or lard, which are also linked to coronary artery problems, but they recommend reducing consumption rather than banning.