The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said that there are around five billion people who are still at risk of harmful trans fat globally, which increases the risk of heart disease and death. The global health body has been advocating some best-practice policies ever since 2018. It asked the government to adopt these policies for the eradication of industrially generated trans fat by 2023.
Industrially produced trans fat is common in baked goods, packaged food, cooking oils and spread. It has health risks that incur huge costs for health systems.
While the coverage of these policies has expanded around six-fold since its inception, a huge number of people are still at risk of developing heart disease from trans fat.
According to the WHO report, 2.8 billion people were protected globally because of the efforts made by forty-three countries in implementing best-practice policies for tackling trans fat in food. Despite this, around 5 billion people are still at risk. The global target of total elimination of trans fat by 2023 still remains unattainable.
“Trans fat has no known benefit and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Insisting that trans fat should have no place in the food, Ghebreyesus said that eliminating is not only cost-effective but also has several health benefits.
“It’s time to get rid of it once and for all,” he added.
The global health body said that nine of the 16 countries with the highest estimated proportion of coronary heart disease deaths were not following best-practice policies. Some of these countries are Pakistan, Nepal, Egypt, Iran, Australia, Bhutan and Ecuador.
The report also stated that higher-income countries have effectively implemented most trans fat elimination policies. However, the number of middle-income countries that are implementing or adopting these policies is also increasing. Among such countries are India, Ukraine, Argentina, Paraguay and Bangladesh.