GENEVA, Jan 23 — More than 5 billion of the world’s eight billion people are exposed to industrially generated and harmful trans-fats in their food, the World Health Organisation reported on Monday.
The Geneva-based UN body said that it had in fact aimed for these unhealthy ingredients in certain foods to disappear by this year. Egypt, Pakistan and South Korea are among the countries worst affected by health conditions linked to trans-fats, reported German news agency dpa.
“Trans-fat has no known benefit, and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“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,” he added.
According to WHO figures, trans-fats lead to half a million premature deaths through heart ailments every year. It pointed to Denmark, where the action taken 20 years ago has 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.