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WHO: Trans-fats continue to jeopardise health of billions

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Monday reported that more than five billion of the world’s eight billion people are exposed to industrially generated and harmful trans-fats in their food.

The Geneva-based United Nations body said it however, planned to end the use of these unhealthy ingredients in certain foods this year.

It listed Egypt, Pakistan and South Korea as among the countries worst affected by health conditions linked to trans-fats.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “Trans-fat has no known benefit, and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems.

“By contrast, eliminating trans-fat is cost effective and has enormous benefits for health. Put simply, trans-fat is a toxic chemical that kills, and should have no place in food. It’s time to get rid of it once and for all.’’

According to WHO figures, trans-fats lead to half a million premature deaths through heart ailments every year.

It pointed to Denmark, where action taken 20 years ago had seen a decline in cardiovascular disease.

Trans-fats are unsaturated fatty acids that can occur in natural or processed foods.

They are produced in the processed food sector by the hydrolysis of oils to produce solid fats like margarine.

Heat treatment of vegetable oils can also lead to trans-fats being produced.

Foods containing high levels of trans-fats include baked produce and confectionery, fried potato products and ready meals.

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