World Health Organization calls for trans fats to be eliminated within five years

ImageCreditAudrey Helen Weber

The WHO said action against trans fats is needed in low-income and middle-income countries where controls of use of industrially-produced trans fats are weaker than those in many high-income countries.

The United States Food and Drug Administration set a three-year compliance period in July of 2015 that said companies either had to make their products without partially hydrogenated oils or petition to be allowed to use them.

LDL is described as the bad cholesterol because it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries.

"WHO calls on governments to use the REPLACE action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply,"said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus".

The initiative, called REPLACE, offers a "step-by-step" guide for nations to follow to remove trans fat from their diets.

The six strategies World Health Organization has proposed include a review of dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats, the promotion of alternative healthier oils and fats, legislation and regulatory actions to curb trans fats, assessment of trans fats consumption in populations, creation of awareness about the risks of transfats and enforcement of policies and regulations.

When people grew concerned about the potential health effects of saturated fat in the 1950s, food manufacturers began advertising products like margarine or Crisco, which got their fat from partially hydrogenated oils - trans fats - instead of saturated fats (in recent years, many companies selling these products have switched from trans fats to other alternatives). Foodmakers prefer these fats because they prolong the shelf life of oils.

Now, years later, World Health Organization is recommending that people limit trans fat intake to less than 1% of their total energy intake.

Multinational food producers that have switched away from trans fat products can help local producers make the move to healthier oils, according to the WHO.

The WHO plan is only targeting industrially produced trans fats.

According to WHO, REPLACE provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans-fats from food supply.

If people stop eating products made with trans fats, more than 17 million lives could be saved over the next 25 years. While WHO does not have the power to enact this global ban on trans fats, it hopes that future generations would be addicted to trans fats.

The WHO recommends that no more than 1 percent of a person's calories come from trans fats.

"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.

"The removal of trans fats from the food supply as an additive counts as one of the major public health victories of the last decade", said Laura MacCleery, policy director for the Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

A number high-income countries have already placed strict limits on trans fats, virtually eliminating them.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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