The discussion on Industrially Produced Trans Fatty Acids (IP-TFA) continue to gather momentum worldwide. The elimination of these IP-TFAs is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to prevent non communicable diseases, such as coronary heart disease. There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that increased intake of trans fat (>1% of total energy intake) is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease mortality and events. According to the WHO, Trans-fatty acids (TFA) intake is responsible for more than 500,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year around the world.
In keeping with the increasing cases of cardiovascular diseases as a result of partially hydrogenated oils (PHO/IP-TFA), organizations are increasingly recognizing the need for elimination of TFAs. Through sustained conversations and advocacy activities, eliminating trans fats from the food supply can be achieved.
Currently, the WHO is recommending the REPLACE action package which provides a strategic approach to eliminating industrially-produced trans-fat from national food supplies, with the goal of global elimination by 2023. The REPLACE package, according to WHO, calls for;
- Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fat and the landscape for required policy change.
- Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans-fat with healthier fats and oils.
- Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat.
- 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 fat among policy-makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.
- Enforce compliance with policies including the use of legislative or regulatory measures to limit IP-TFA to no more than 2 grams/100 grams (2%) of total fat in all food products; ban partially hydrogenated oils, the major source of IP-TFA; and/or a combination of the two policies aforementioned.
International NGOs and CSOs joining the Call
But the elimination of IP-TFA is not a preserve of the WHO only. INGOs and Civil Society Organizations are called to join in this endeavor. International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA) have heeded to the call and has joined the short list of organizations that are currently advocating for elimination of these partially hydrogenated oils by 2023. Between 4th-6th May 2022, IILA organized a Workshop on TFA elimination bringing together Digital Advocates and Journalist. During this workshop, I moderated a panel discussion that sought to demystify the role of NCDs and Digital Advocates in creating the needed momentum for eliminating TFAs from our food supply. The panel discussion culminated into a communique calling on the East African Governments to fast-track enactment of legislations that target elimination of IP-TFA.
Partnership with Digital Advocates and Journalists
Given that the success towards elimination of IP-TFA is dependent of different levels of stakeholder engagement, IILA is keen to collaborate with digital advocates for knowledge sharing and effective implementation of the project. The effective use of social media is an integral element of a policy advocacy campaign. Working strategically with the digital advocates in pushing for elimination of IP-TFA will help to create a favorable environment for policy change. Key stakeholders, such as policy-makers and key opinion leaders, can be drawn to the cause through effective and strategic social media advocacy. At the same time, consistent digital advocacy will build public awareness and inspire people to take direct action towards this cause. As a digital advocate myself, I am looking forward to working with IILA to eliminate the TFAs through effective digital advocacy.