Five billion people unprotected from trans fat leading to heart disease

Jan. 23, 2023
WHO report.

Five billion people globally remain unprotected from harmful trans fat, a new status report from the World Health Organization has found, increasing their risk of heart disease and death.

Currently, 9 of the 16 countries with the highest estimated proportion of coronary heart disease deaths caused by trans fat intake do not have a best-practice policy. They are Australia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Nepal, Pakistan and Republic of Korea.

Best-practices in trans fat elimination policies follow specific criteria established by WHO and limit industrially produced trans fat in all settings. There are two best-practice policy alternatives: 1) mandatory national limit of 2 grams of industrially produced trans fat per 100 grams of total fat in all foods; and 2) mandatory national ban on the production or use of partially hydrogenated oils (a major source of trans fat) as an ingredient in all foods.

While most trans fat elimination policies to date have been implemented in higher-income countries (largely in the Americas and in Europe), an increasing number of middle-income countries are implementing or adopting these policies, including Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Paraguay, Philippines and Ukraine. Best-practice policies are also being considered in Mexico, Nigeria and Sri Lanka in 2023. If passed, Nigeria would be the second and most populous country in Africa to put a best-practice trans fat elimination policy in place. No low-income countries have yet adopted a best-practice policy to eliminate trans fat.

In 2023, WHO recommends that countries focus on these four areas: adopting best-practice policy, monitoring and surveillance, healthy oil replacements and advocacy. WHO guidance has been developed to help countries make rapid advances in these areas.

WHO release

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