The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that five billion people are at risk of developing heart disease due to the consumption of foods which contain trans fat.
The WHO said that, since it made the call in 2018 for the elimination of industrially produced trans fat by 2023, 43 countries have made strides to implement policies to tackle trans fat. However, the 2023 goal remains largely unattainable.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said: “Trans fat has no known benefit, and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems.”
He further said: “By contrast, eliminating trans fat is cost effective and has enormous benefits for health. Put simply, trans fat is a toxic chemical that kills, and should have no place in food. It’s time to get rid of it once and for all.”
Trans fat is a type of saturated fat that is found in packaged foods, baked goods, cooking oils and spreads.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes are two of the leading causes of death in Jamaica.
A 2018 report from the Ministry of Health and Wellness outlined that an estimated seven out of 10 Jamaicans died from the four major NCDs such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease.
The WHO has put forward two best practice policies to eliminate industrially produced trans fat which include the mandatory national limit of two grams of industrially produced trans fat per 100 grams of total fat in all foods and the mandatory national ban on the production of partially hydrogenated oils in foods.
The international public health agency urges countries to focus on key areas such as best practice policy, monitoring and surveillance, healthy oil replacement and advocacy.
The WHO also encourages manufacturers to eliminate industrially produced trans fat from their products based on the guidelines from the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA).