The World Health Organization is calling for the elimination of artificial trans fats by 2023.
The WHO launched an initiative today called REPLACE, which will guide countries on how to remove artificial trans fats from foods.
REPLACE stands for Review dietary sources, Promote use of healthier fats, Legislate, Assess changes, Create awareness and Enforce.
Artificial trans fats are made when vegetable oils are solidified in a process that hydrogenates them. These fats are used in fried foods, snack foods, baked food and in margarine, coffee creamer, vegetable shortening and ready to use frostings.
They have a long shelf life but can have harmful long term health issues such as raising levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
The REPLACE package is the first time WHO is calling to eliminate a lifestyle factor that drives non-communicable disease, according to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who spoke during a briefing on Monday.
“More than six billion people live in countries that don’t protect their citizens from industrially produced trans fat,” says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Non communicable diseases are a result of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors such as diet and lack of exercise.
“Non-communicable diseases are the world’s leading cause of death,” Adhanom said during the briefing.
Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet high in trans fats is an example of a non-communicable disease.
In the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration has determined that partially hydrogenated oils, a main source of artificially trans fats such as those found in margarine, are no longer on the GRAS “generally recognized as safe” list.
More than 500,000 people die every year from eating industrially-produced trans fats. Trans fats can be found in donuts, breakfast sandwiches, biscuits – especially with the word “flaky,” microwave popcorn, cream-filled candies, frozen pizza.
Canadians eat more donuts than per capita than any other country’s citizens. There are more donut shops per capita in Canada than anywhere else on the planet*
Health Canada is banning artificial trans fats in Canadian diets with a ban that is coming into force on Sept. 15, 2018. After that date it will illegal to sell any food containing PHOs or partially hydrogenated oils.