Five billion people are exposed to trans fats that cause heart disease

Five billion people globally remain unprotected from harmful trans fats, a new WHO status report has found, increasing their risk of heart disease and death.

Since the WHO first called for the global elimination of industrially produced trans fats in 2018 – with an elimination target set for 2023 – population coverage of best-practice policies has increased almost sixfold. With 2.8 billion people worldwide protected, 43 countries have now implemented best practice policies to deal with trans fats in food.

Despite substantial progress, however, it still leaves 5 billion people worldwide at risk from the devastating health effects of trans fats, rendering the global target for its total elimination in 2023 unattainable at this time.

Industrially produced trans fats (also called industrially produced trans-fatty acids) are commonly found in packaged foods, baked goods, cooking oils, and spreads. Trans fat consumption is responsible for 500 000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease worldwide each year.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said, “Trans fat has no known benefits, and poses major health risks that cause huge costs to health systems.” “In contrast, eliminating trans fat is cost-effective and has enormous benefits for health. Simply put, trans fat is a toxic chemical that kills, and should have no place in food. This once again It’s time for everyone to get rid of it.

Currently, 9 of the 16 countries with the highest estimated proportion of coronary heart disease deaths from trans fat consumption do not have a best practice policy. They are Australia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic), Nepal, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea.

Best practices in trans fat elimination policies follow specific criteria established by the WHO and limit industrially produced trans fats in all settings. There are two best practice policy options: 1) a mandatory national limit of 2 grams of industrially produced trans fat per 100 grams of total fat in all foods; and 2) a mandatory national ban on the production or use of partially hydrogenated oils (a major source of trans fats) as an ingredient in all foods.

“Progress on eliminating trans fat is at risk of stalling, and trans fat continues to kill people,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “Every government can now stop these preventable deaths by passing best practice policy. The days of trans fat killing people are numbered – but governments must act to end this preventable tragedy.”

While most trans fat elimination policies have been implemented in high-income countries (mostly in the US and Europe), a growing number of middle-income countries are implementing or adopting these policies, including Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Paraguay, , Philippines and Ukraine. Best practice policies are also being considered in 2023 in Mexico, Nigeria and Sri Lanka. If passed, Nigeria would be the second and most populous country in Africa to implement a best practice trans fat elimination policy. No low-income country has yet adopted a best practice policy to eliminate trans fat.

In 2023, WHO recommends that countries focus on these four areas: best practice policy, surveillance and monitoring, adoption of healthy oil substitution and advocacy. WHO guidance has been developed to help countries make rapid progress in these areas.

WHO encourages food manufacturers to eliminate industrially produced trans fats from their products in line with the commitment made by the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA). Major suppliers of oils and fats are being called upon to remove industrially produced trans fats from products sold to food manufacturers globally.

report called WHO report on global trans fat elimination 2022 Countdown to 2023It 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 by 2023.

To Editors:

The World Health Organization has partnered with Resolve to Save Lives, a non-profit organization, to support the development and implementation of the REPLACE Action Package. Launched in 2018, WHO’s REPLACE action package provides a strategic approach to eliminating industrially produced trans fats from the national food supply.

Since 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported Resolve to Save global efforts to save lives from heart disease.

For more information visit: or Twitter @ResolveTSL

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