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World Health Organization calls for trans fats to be eliminated within five years
16 May 2018, 06:37 | Lena Norman
Several high-income countries, such as Denmark, and cities, including NY, have virtually eliminated trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food.
Artificial trans fats are unhealthy substances that are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid, like in the creation of margarine or shortening. They are often present in frying oils, fried snacks, margarine and shortening since trans fat-based oils have a longer shelf life (don't worry, Canada has almost phased them out entirely in those products).
Dr. Walter C. Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said he thought the W.H.O. initiative would likely lead to the extinction of trans fats in the near future. Health experts say they can be replaced with canola oil or other products.
Trans-fatty acids can also occur naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, etc).
"Trans fats are a harmful compound that can be removed easily without major cost and without any impact on the quality of the foods", Branca said.
"Implementing the six strategic actions in the REPLACE package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease", WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
In the USA, the first trans fatty food to hit the market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911. Food manufacturers need to reformulate products to contain close to zero trans fats. They used them in such fare as doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods.
Popularized in the 1950s, and once lionized as a healthy alternative to the saturated fats found in butter and lard, trans fats have been implicated in sudden heart attacks and strokes, but they are also associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and even infertility in women.
A study performed in New York City in 2016, showed that a ban on trans fats there affected a 5% reduction in deaths for cardiovascular reasons and provided savings of $3.9 million for every 100,000 citizens of the city.
Former New York mayor and creator of the city's trans fat ban Michael Bloomberg likened the REPLACE plan to the highly-effective anti-tobacco campaigns that ran in the latter half of the 20th century.
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