Nepal restricts trans-fatty acids in food

OV Digital Desk

The World Health Organization congratulates Nepal for restricting levels of industrially produced trans-fatty acids in the food supply through a legislation, a move aimed at promoting health and saving lives.

“Eliminating trans-fatty acids is a cost-effective measure with great health benefits in preventing premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases,” said Ms Saima Wazed, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.

Prioritizing prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in Southeast Asia Region, WHO has been supporting countries for elimination of trans-fatty acids from national food supplies, along with other measures. With Nepal’s legislation, now nearly 80% of the Region’s population – 1.6 billion people –  will be potentially protected from the harms of trans-fatty acids.

Globally, 540,000 deaths every year can be attributed to intake of industrially produced trans-fatty acids. High trans-fat intake significantly increases the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.  Trans fat has no known health benefits.

In the WHO South-East Asia Region, non-communicable diseases cause 69% of the nearly 9 million deaths every year. Cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of deaths.

In 2018 WHO released REPLACE a guide of six strategies to help achieve the elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids. In collaboration with Resolve to Save Lives, REPLACE protocols are being implemented across the Region.

By 2022 Thailand, India, and Bangladesh had adopted regulations for the elimination of trans-fatty acids in the food supply. Indonesia had complementary policy measures. Sri Lanka issued a regulation in 2023. Nepal issued the legislation on trans-fatty acids on 8 February.

Restricting trans-fatty acids is one of the measures under WHO South-East Asia Region’s ‘SEA HEARTS’ that emphasizes on united effort across all partners and all stakeholders for aligned and effective acceleration of actions to reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases.

Nepal’s legislation on trans-fatty acids will add 30 million people to the SEA HEARTS  target of protecting two billion people from the harmful effects of trans-fatty acids through best practice or complementary policy measures of WHO REPLACE by 2025.

WHO has been urging countries in the Region to focus on best-practice policies, monitoring and surveillance, to drive progress against trans-fatty acids.

Last month, Thailand was among the first five recipients of WHO certificate validating progress in eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids.

Eliminating trans-fatty acids from the food supply will enhance the health and well-being of people and also help attain the SDG targets of reducing premature mortality by one-third from noncommunicable diseases by 2030.

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