With people continuously on-the-go, it is hard to track what we eat and how it affects our bodies. Because of the numerous health risks, the World Health Organization devised a method to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids.

The method, named REPLACE, is a step-by-step guide by the organization to eliminating industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply. WHO estimated around 500,000 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.

Trans-fatty acids
WHO is providing measures to promote healthier eating habits by devising the REPLACE method. Photo from Flickr

There are two sources of trans-fatty acids – ruminant fat, usually found in dairy and meat products; and industrially-produced partially hydrogenated fat, which are those in frying oils, margarine, spreads, and bakery products. Food producers generally use the latter because of its longer shelf life.

WHO reports that consumption of trans-fat also increases a person’s risk of heart disease by 21 percent and premature death by 28 percent. Meanwhile, partially hydrogenated fat leads to inflammation and endothelial dysfunction which eventually leads to atherosclerosis and clogged arteries.

WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that by implementing the strategic actions of REPLACE, it helps achieve the elimination of trans fat and a victory in the fight against cardiovascular problems. REPLACE is an acronym which stands for “Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create, And Enforce.”

The REPLACE strategies read as follows:

  • Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fat and the landscape for required policy change.
  • Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils.
  • Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.
  • Assess and monitor trans-fat content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population.
  • Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policymakers, producers, suppliers, and the public.
  • Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.

Ghebreyesus said the announcement signifies the first time WHO has called for an elimination of a single lifestyle factor which causes a non-communicable disease. However other countries have already made the same move of eliminating industrially-produced trans fat, Denmark being the first to do so.  The Food and Drug Administration also initiated steps to remove partially hydrogenated oils from America’s food supply.

Video from: World Health Organization