World Health Organization Seeks Ban Of Unhealthy Trans Fats

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Food makers liked artificial trans fats because they prolong product shelf life and enhance flavor.

Dr Ravi Shankar, senior gastroenterologist, said, "Trans fats are mainly found in fast foods and if they are consumed in higher quantities, they lead to premature death and accumulation of fats in one's blood vessels which can even lead to cerebral palsy". It can be hard to change some of the behaviors that lead to those deaths - but that doesn't stop researchers from trying to get people to exercise and eat more vegetables.

In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration said partially hydrogenated oil - the main source of industrially produced trans fats - was no longer "recognized as safe", as it contributes to plaque buildup in arteries.

"The removal of trans fats from the food supply as an additive counts as one of the major public health victories of the last decade", said Laura MacCleery, policy director for the Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest. The determination from the FDA said that removing the trans fats "could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year". What is new is the World Health Organization global initiative to tackle a non-communicable disease, said Frieden, presently the President and Chief Executive of Resolve to Save Lives (an initiative of non-profit organisation Vital Strategies), involved with implementing the World Health Organization campaign.

They have been known to raise levels of cholesterol and increase risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Researchers starting suggesting these fats might be unsafe based on signs of their accumulation in autopsies in the late 1950s.

According to the USDA, a reduction in trans fat could prevent almost 30,000 premature deaths in the US every year. In 2003, a Danish law that limited the amounts of these fats in food was passed.

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.

Artificial trans fats are unhealthy substances that are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid, like in the creation of margarine or shortening. 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.