March 5, 2024
Health GCC Saudi Arabia

WHO recognises 5 nations for trans fats elimination progress

Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand top

The World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded certificates to Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand for their exceptional progress in eliminating industrially produced trans fatty acids (iTFA).

These nations have successfully implemented best-practice policies supported by robust monitoring and enforcement systems to combat the health risks of iTFA.

The WHO’s REPLACE initiative, aimed at eradicating iTFA globally by the end of 2023, fell short of its ambitious goal.

However, significant strides have been made worldwide, with seven countries, including Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, North Macedonia, the Philippines, and Ukraine, adopting new best-practice policies in 2023 alone.

TFA dangers

Trans fatty acids (TFA), known for increasing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease-related deaths, have no proven health benefits.

Foods high in industrially produced trans fats, such as fried foods, cakes, and ready meals, often contain elevated sugar, fat, and salt levels.

Fifty-three countries have implemented best-practice policies to address iTFA in food, improving the food environment for 46% of the world’s population, compared to just 6% five years ago. These policies are estimated to save 183,000 lives annually.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, stressed the urgency of implementing and enforcing trans-fat policies, applauding Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand for their leadership.

He urged other nations to follow suit, emphasising that introducing policies is just the first step, with implementation equally crucial.

Unique opportunity

Efforts to establish best-practice policies in eight countries with the highest needs could eliminate 90% of the global iTFA burden, presenting a unique opportunity to witness a world free from iTFA-related deaths.

The WHO’s validation programme acknowledges countries that go beyond policy introduction, ensuring rigorous monitoring and enforcement systems. Compliance with these policies is critical to maximising and sustaining the health benefits of iTFA elimination.

Following WHO criteria, best-practice policies include a mandatory national limit of 2 grams of iTFA per 100 grams of total fat in all foods or a national compulsory ban on the production or use of partially hydrogenated oils (a significant source of trans fat) in all foods.

Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, highlighted the economic, political, and technical feasibility of trans fat elimination, stressing that it saves lives at no cost to governments or consumers.

Despite progress, over half the world’s population remains unprotected from iTFA’s harmful impacts, increasing the risk of heart disease.

WHO proposes a revised target for virtual iTFA elimination globally by 2025, aiming for best-practice policies in countries accounting for at least 90% of the total global iTFA burden.

The next application cycle for the iTFA elimination validation program is set to open in March 2024, with applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

WHO remains committed to supporting countries in their efforts to eliminate iTFA and celebrating their achievements in the ongoing battle against this harmful substance.

Featured image: Trans fatty acids are known for increasing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease-related deaths. Image: Robina Weermeijer

Last Updated on 2 weeks by Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers trending business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
    Follow Me:

    Related Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *