The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new campaign calling for the total elimination of artificial trans fats from the global food supply. In a news release posted to their site, the WHO outlined a step-by-step program governments can follow to meet the proposed due date by 2023.
The initiative, called REPLACE, is an acronym that outlines the principles governments should use to promptly eliminate industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply. The campaign is a call to action for governments to review food items which contain trans fats required for the policy change and to eliminate them by enacting legislation whilst promoting healthier replacements.
"WHO calls on governments to use the REPLACE action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply," said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "Implementing the six strategic actions in the REPLACE package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease."
In addition, governments should create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats on the public.
While there four different major dietary fats humans consume in the food they eat, they can be generally categorized as a good fat or a bad fat. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like liquid vegetable oil).
What makes things confusing, however, is how medical studies, diets, and nutritionist advice can complicate our understanding of how fat affects our bodies and health. Compared to other sources of calories—the fuel source we need to be active and healthy throughout the day—fat contains more calories than ‘healthier’ alternatives such as carbohydrates and proteins. So, in a sense, consumption of fats can actually provide your body with more energy than protein sources.
“The dangers of trans fats isn’t news. This has been a problem for a long time, but it’s just too bad we have to wait until 2023 to completely ban them,” says Bonne Taub-Dix, creator of BetterThanDieting.com.
The benefits and detriments of fat become further muddled when we look deeper. Of course, everyone knows that consuming too much of a calorie-packed food source, such as fat, will lead to weight gain. We associate fatty food with obesity and cholesterol issues as a result of how much more calories are naturally within those items. However, certain fatty foods that contain unsaturated fats can actually be good for you and help lower bad cholesterol levels.
So, what can you do?!
Fortunately, the world of trans fats is relatively clear. Numerous studies and reports from WHO and other health organizations across the world agree that trans fats, often artificially created, are the worst type of fat to consume.
To avoid eating trans fats, the first step to take is to pay close attention to the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of food packages you buy. Identify and avoid packaged goods that contain trans fats and partially-hydrogenated oils.
Secondly, you can focus on using unsaturated fat sources such as vegetable oil or olive oil. Substitute butter for margarine. Stay away from fried foods and baked pastries.
You can also go the healthier route and limit consumption of fatty foods altogether! Try a diet that emphasizes fruits, veggies, poultry, fish, nuts, and whole grains.
What do you think about the WHO’s campaign against trans fats? Do you agree that governments should have stricter control over what you eat? Let us know in the comments.