WHO calls for all nations to expunge trans fats from food

The World Health Organization (WHO) is challenging all nations to rid their foods of artificial trans fats in the next five years, a move expected to curb the burden of cardiovascular disease worldwide. This task would likely require countries to use regulations or legislation to force food manufacturers to make the switch. 

Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid, such as in margarine or shortening. Canola oil and other products can easily replace these processes, according to health experts.

Studies have shown that trans fats lead to poor cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease, leading several nations—including the U.S.—to begin extinguishing the product from their food supplies. Now, the WHO is challenging low- and middle-income countries to do the same.

“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,” Laura MacCleery, policy director for the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Associated Press.

According to the AP, the first trans fatty food to hit the U.S. market was Crisco shortening in 1911. They gained popularity in the 1950s because experts at the time thought trans fatty foods were healthier than cooking with butter, but later studies disproved that theory.

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