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Trans fats can commonly be found in junk food, as well as baked and fried goods.

World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "WHO calls on governments to use the Replace action package to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids from the food supply. As of next month, US food manufacturers may not use trans fats in food products without FDA approval.

Although many wealthier countries have in recent years taken action to reduce the level of trans fats in their food, use of trans fat in less wealthy countries where regulation - either voluntary or legal - is often non-existent remains a serious public health concern.

For example, in Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans fats, the trans-fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly than in comparable OECD countries. Moreover, the foods that still contain trans fats in the US and Europe tend to disproportionately affect the poor, because foods containing trans fats tend to be cheaper.

"The removal of trans fats from the food supply as an additive counts as one of the major public health victories of the last decade", said Laura MacCleery, policy director for the Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Artificial trans fat or trans-fatty acids are produced in a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. A misconception that the products were healthier than butter or lard led to surge in popularity that peaked in 1950s, but studies gradually revealed a link between trans fats and unsafe cholesterol levels in the blood.

Nutrition expert Dr. Marion nestle of New York University complained that World Health Organization was not using plain language to tell people about trans fats. They used them in doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods.

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Trans-fats increase levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile.

In applauding WHO's action, the New York Times' editorial board writes: "It is not always easy for consumers to know when they are eating these oils, which are often in packaged or prepared foods that are not clearly labeled".

In certain countries, the risk is quite high.

Trans fats are finding their way onto too many plates, and they need to be eliminated - ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease have become first and second causes of premature mortality, and the majority of these cases occur in low and middle-income countries.

REPLACE is the product of an agency with 7,000 people working in offices in 150 countries and, as such, is not one of those acronyms whose meaning is immediately apparent like, say, LOL. This includes the review of dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change.

C reate awareness about the negative health effects of trans fats.

Fear not, the move towards eliminating trans fats doesn't mean you'll have to kiss your precious Oreos goodbye.


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