WHO Calls for Worldwide Elimination of Trans Fats by 2023

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According to estimates compiled by World Health Organization, the consumption of trans fats leads to over 500,000 deaths due to severe heart ailments.

Eliminating these fats is the "key to protecting health and saving lives", it said, in a statement.

Nutritionist Sujatha Stephen said, "We used to have only saturated and unsaturated fats but nowadays because of the advent of the western foods the use of trans fats is increasing".

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For the record, products such as ghee and margarine contain industrially-manufactured fats, which are found in fried and baked foods. Hydrogenated fats are basically vegetable oil which has an extra hydrogen atom attached to its molecules using industrial processes, resulting in a substance that hardens into solid fat at lower temperatures, as the FDA described them.

Willett, who was an early voice in the fight against trans fats, further explains that the low cost of a full transition to much healthier fats when taken into account the huge payoff of the move should make the idea a no-brainer. Seemingly though, medical experts are of the view that healthier product substitutes that will not affect the food tastes or costs can be effectively utilized in their place. WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg said, "Banning trans-fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives". The agency gave the industry three years to phase out PHOs.

However, as the World Health Organization pointed out in their suggestions, many high-income countries have been able to encourage companies to lower or eliminate their trans fat use, while low- to middle-income countries might not have the resources to instigate a ban. "In South Asian countries, they have very, very high risk of heart disease and high intakes of trans fats", Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the Nutrition for Health Department at the WHO, emphasized in his statement.

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While fewer and fewer foods now contain trans fats, some may still have a small amount.

There are two main sources for trans fats: natural sources (in the dairy products and meat of ruminants, such as cows and sheep); and industrially produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils).

Food companies will need to be given time to transition to the healthier alternative, Frieden said, recalling his experience as former New York City Health Commissioner, when restaurants took up to six months to transition. Partially hydrogenated oils were first introduced into the food supply in the early 20th century as a replacement for butter.

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