The World Health Organisation, WHO has named fifteen countries with estimated two-thirds of worldwide deaths linked to trans fat intake.
Four of the fifteen countries, which are Canada, Latvia, Slovenia, United States of America, the agency said have implemented WHO-recommended best-practice policies since 2017, either by setting mandatory limits for industrially produced trans fats to 2 per cent of oils and fats in all foods or banning partially hydrogenated oils (PHO).
While the other 11 countries – Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea; still need to take urgent action on the issue.
Making the disclosure through a press statement on Wednesday, the apex health agency revealed that consumption of industrially produced trans fats are estimated to cause around 500,000 deaths per year due to coronary heart disease.
“In a time when the whole world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make every effort to protect people’s health. That must include taking all steps possible to prevent noncommunicable diseases that can make them more susceptible to the coronavirus, and cause premature death,” said WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Our goal of eliminating trans fats by 2023 must not be delayed”, he stressed.
Tracing its efforts to eliminate industrially produced trans fats from the global food supply, which is two years now, WHO disclosed that 58 countries so far have introduced laws that will protect 3.2 billion people from the harmful substance by the end of 2021.
However, it noted that more than 100 countries still need to take actions to remove these harmful substances from their food supplies.
The report highlights two encouraging trends. First, when countries do act, they overwhelmingly adopt best-practice policies rather than less restrictive ones.
On the positive side, the agency further revealed that countries like Nigeria, Brazil and Turkey met the new policy measures passed and/or introduced in the past year.
“With the global economic downturn, more than ever, countries are looking for best buys in public health,” said Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives.
He said :“Making food trans fat-free, saves lives and saves money, and, by preventing heart attacks, reduces the burden on healthcare facilities”.