WHO Praises Nepal’s Restrictions On Trans-Fatty Acids In Food

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded Nepal for implementing legislation for restricting industrially produced trans-fatty acids in the production and processing of food supply of the country. This move aims to promote health and save lives, as per the regional director of the WHO South-East Asia, Saima Wazed. Removing trans-fatty acids is a cost-effective step with great health benefits for preventing premature deaths from various heart diseases. 

WHO has been prioritising prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the South-East Asia region. The UN agency has been supporting countries who are focusing on eliminating trans-fatty acids from national food supplies, along with other measures. Now with Nepal’s legislation, about 80 percent of the region’s population (1.6 billion people) will be potentially safeguarded from the damage caused by trans-fatty acids.  

According to WHO, the world faces 540,000 deaths annually due to the consumption of industrially produced trans-fatty acids. High trans-fat food has no potential health benefits and is known to give significant rise to the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.   

The report says, 69 percent of deaths (nearly 9 million people every year) in South-East Asia Region happen because of non-communicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases. In the year 2018, the WHO announced a guide of six strategies, called ‘REPLACE’ to help eliminate industrially produced trans-fatty acids. The measurement was taken with ‘Resolve to Save Lives’. These strategies are being applied across the region.  

By the year 2022 Thailand, India and Bangladesh had adopted these regulations as well for removing trans-fatty acids in the food supply chain of their country. Indonesia had complementary policy measures to combat this health issue while Sri Lanka issued a regulation in 2023. The legislation on trans-fatty acids was issued in Nepal on February 8.    

As per the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, this legislation is compulsory for all food processing companies. Mohan Krishna Maharjan on behalf of the department said that the legislation will come into effect after six months.  

WHO’s step of implementing restricting on trans-fatty acids is one of the measures under South-East Asia Region’s ‘SEA HEARTS,’ that focuses on combined effort across all partners and stakeholders for aligned and effective advancement of actions to decrease deaths from cardiovascular diseases.  

This legislation of Nepal on trans-fatty acids will add around 30 million people to the ‘SEA HEARTS’ aim of protecting 2 billion people from the serious effects of trans-fatty acids, through best practice or complementary policy measures of ‘WHO REPLACE’ by the year 2025.  

Last month, Thailand was among the first five awardees of WHO certificate validating development in elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids. Eliminating trans-fatty acids from the food supply will improve people's health and help attain the SDG targets of decreasing premature mortality from NCDs by a third by the year 2030.