Healthy eating. As part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 144th Executive Board Meeting, which ended on February 1, the NCD Alliance held an event on trans fatty acids (TFAs). There, its Replace Plan was presented to help countries eliminate TFAs from the food supply by 2023. Among the measures recommended, the NCD urged countries to enact legislation to eliminate this component of industrial production. Although Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador have already begun to implement policies in this area, it is expected that commitment on food security will be strengthened and expanded across other parts of the region in 2019.
The Replace Plan constitutes a guide to eliminating industrial trans fats from the global food supply. In particular, TFAs can be found in baked goods, pre-packaged products and some cooking oils. Widely present in foods, TFAs account for over 500,000 deaths from coronary heart disease each year worldwide according to the NCD Alliance. Thus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that “the implementation of this programme will help to eliminate trans fats and will be a great victory against cardiovascular disease”.
The guide presented includes six strategic areas. First, it reviews the dietary sources from which trans fats derive (Review – RE). Second, it encourages the replacement of trans fats with other healthier fats and oils (Promote – P). Third, it urges legislation to eliminate this component from industrial production (Legislate – L). Fourth, it proposes monitoring TFAs in products as well as any changes in TFA consumption across populations (Assess – A). Fifth, it raises awareness among policy makers, suppliers, producers and the public in general (Create Awareness – C). Finally, it requires compliance with the measures taken (Enforce – E).
Some progress has already been made in the Americas. For example, the United States and Canada implemented bans on hydrogenated oils in 2018. In 2019, the NCD Alliance is expected to increase its advocacy campaign for governments in the region to advance on legislation to ban the use of industrial trans fats and promote substitute fats and oils. In this regard, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador have already set limits of 2% for industrial trans fats.