Giant food makers pledge to slash trans fats globally

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, "Implementing the six strategic actions in the REPLACE package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease".

Last week, World Health Organization issued strict guidelines in relation to the amount of saturated fat that should be contained in a healthy diet.

Officials think it can be done in five years because the work is well underway in many countries.

"The world is now setting its sights on today's leading killers - particularly heart disease, which kills more people than any other cause in nearly every country", said Frieden, president of Resolve to Save Lives, a New-York-based project of an organization called Vital Strategies.

Tedros said curbing the use of trans fats would be a centrepiece of WHO's efforts to cut deaths from noncommunicable diseases by a third before 2030, which is one of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The WHO recommends that no more than 1 percent of a person's calories come from trans fats. To accomplish that, the organization is dispensing to its member nations a six-part strategic-action plan that includes taking steps to identify foods with partially hydrogenated oil in them, promoting their replacement, and taking legislative action-where necessary-to eliminate industrially produced trans fats.

Trans fats occur in small amounts in nature.

"The first trans fatty food to hit the USA market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911". Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats, but healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats. "Trans fatty foods became increasingly popular beginning in the 1950s, partly because experts at the time thought they were healthier than cooking with butter or lard", writes the Associated Press' Mike Stobbe for the Washington Post.

But they can have harmful health effects, such as raising levels of LDL cholesterol and increasing risk of heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes.

Consumers didn't miss trans fats when they were replaced in Denmark, the first country to eliminate them, said Steen Stender, professor of nutrition, exercise and sports at the University of Copenhagen.

Decades of studies have consistently shown that trans fats cause coronary artery disease, and some countries have already started to ban them.

Many manufacturers cut back, and studies showed trans fat levels in the blood of middle-aged USA adults fell by almost 60 percent by the end of the decade.

Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public. Snack giant Mondelez International, maker of Oreo cookies, is on track to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from its products by the end of the year, a spokeswoman said.

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