World Health Organization calls for removal of trans fat in food supply by 2023

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The World Health Organization announced its plan to eliminate artificial trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023. These oils, which are referred to by the term partially hydrogenated, resulted in a decreased cost of processing foods while extending the shelf life of food products causing them to become popular as an ingredient with snack foods.

Willett, who was an early voice in the fight against trans fats, further explains that the low cost of a full transition to much healthier fats when taken into account the enormous payoff of the move should make the idea a no-brainer. Health advocates say trans fats are the most harmful fat in the food supply.

While fewer and fewer foods now contain trans fats, some may still have a small amount.

"A comprehensive approach to tobacco control allowed us to make more progress globally over the last decade than nearly anyone thought possible", he said, "Now, a similar approach to trans fat can help us make that kind of progress against cardiovascular disease, another of the world's leading causes of preventable death". But healthier alternatives, which are generally more expensive, can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food.

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"Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there's no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed" to it, Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Los Angeles Times. "But in the last three or four years, most big food companies have stopped using trans fats", she said.

The guidelines, he said, will ensure the prompt, complete and sustained elimination of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply and will include recommended legislation; monitoring of trans fats content in the food supply and changes in their consumption by the population; information campaigns to inform the public and policymakers about the negative health impact of trans fats.

However, as the World Health Organization pointed out in their suggestions, many high-income countries have been able to encourage companies to lower or eliminate their trans fat use, while low- to middle-income countries might not have the resources to instigate a ban. This is because they're used in partially-hydrogenated oils, which were first used as a butter replacement and then later as a replacement for foods containing saturated fatty acids. They raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels, which increases risk of heart disease and stroke.

The United States Food and Drug Administration reports that as many as 7,000 fatalities and 20,000 heart attacks can be prevented by the reduction of trans fats in the American diet.

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