Global fight against trans fat

Global fight against trans fat

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has just launched a new initiative by releasing a comprehensive guide, REPLACE, for elimination of...

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has just launched a new initiative by releasing a comprehensive guide, REPLACE, for elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.

The practical, step-by step action package is supported by an overarching technical document that provides a rationale and framework for this integrated approach to trans fat elimination.

The six areas of action include: Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fat and the landscape for required policy change; Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fat with healthier fats and oils; Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fat; Assess and monitor trans fat content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population; Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fat among policy-makers, producers, suppliers, and the public; and, Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.

The REPLACE package outlines six strategic action areas to support the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced TFA from the food supply Trans-fatty acids (TFA) are fatty acids with at least one double carbon–carbon bond in the trans configuration.

TFA can be produced industrially by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable and fish oils, but also occur at lower levels naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. Industrially-produced TFA are the predominant source of dietary TFA in many populations,1 particularly in countries which have not taken action to remove industrially produced TFA from the food supply. Industrially produced TFA were first introduced into the food supply in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the invention of partially hydrogenated oils.

These oils are most frequently found in baked and fried foods, prepared or pre-packaged snacks and food, and cooking oils and spreads. Consumption of TFA is strongly associated with increased risk of CHD and related mortality. Globally, increased TFA intake is estimated to be responsible for more than 500,000 deaths per year.

TFA increases levels of LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol and decreases levels of HDL (healthy) cholesterol. Replacement of TFA with unsaturated fatty acids decreases the risk of CHD, in part, by ameliorating the negative effects of TFA on blood lipids. In addition, there are indications that TFA may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. (

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