In his presentation titled “Why it is important to regulate Transfatty Acids (TFA) in Nigeria”, the Project Adviser for TFA Elimination, Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Dr Jerome Mafeni stated that Trans fats have been linked to increases in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers, dementia and death. According to new estimates by the World Health Organization, over 250, 000 persons die yearly resulting from complications associated with the consumption of foods high in trans fats. This statistic has led to the call for the global elimination of industrially produced trans-fat by 2023.“Industrially produced Trans Fatty Acids (iTFAs) are unsaturated fats chemically manufactured via passage of hydrogen through oils for them to be used as solid fats. Bacteria produce naturally occurring TFAs in the guts of animals (ruminants – cows, goats, sheep etc.), but the vast majority of TFAs are produced industrially by hydrogenation. iTFAs have been a commercially very successful product, becoming very popular in the diet during the 20th century. WHO analysed iTFAs’ health impact and found that iTFAs increase overall mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality (Death due to heart and blood system-related conditions). Over half a million deaths per year are attributable to iTFA consumption. Therefore, WHO recommends that TFAs, both natural and industrial, do not exceed 1% of energy intake per day” Mafeni said.
iTFAs are common in baked goods, pre-packaged foods, and some cooking oils, and are a significant contributor to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) worldwide, estimated to contribute to over half a million deaths every year. iTFAs have no known health benefits and can readily and safely be replaced in foods without impacting their consistency and taste.
While Installing the FCCPC Executive Vice Chairman, Babatunde Irukera as the Trans-fat free Nigeria champion, the Nigeria In-Country Coordinator Cardiovascular Health Program, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Joy Amafah charged FCCPC to uphold the consumers right to healthy foods by ensuring that the TFA regulation is put in place.
Amafah said, “we are positive you will continue to use your good office to promote and advance the objectives of the campaign towards eliminating or at least reducing the trans fat contents in our food supplies to the minimum standards thereby protecting the health of the consumers.
It therefore gives me great pleasure on behalf of the coalition partners for the trans-fat free Nigeria campaign and the Global health advocacy incubator to now confer on you a Policy Champion on our campaign”. She added that “we are very excited to have you accept this important role and we look forward to continued collaboration with your office”.