CSOs inaugurate project to reduce trans fat-related diseases, deaths
Worried about health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat, members of the #TransfatFreeNigeria campaign have launched series of Public Service Announcement (PSAs) on regulating trans-fat consumption in Nigeria.
Members of the #TransfatFreeNigeria campaign include: the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).
The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at a virtual meeting held in Abuja expressed concern on the public health dangers which trans fat causes, cautioning that the impacts would be far more insidious under the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) climate except something is done urgently. Trans fat is a food component that has been linked to more than half a million deaths per year. Until now, several studies have shown that sustained high trans fat consumption increases bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol, and increases the risk of coronary heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive diseases. It has been linked to heart attacks as well as 540,000 global deaths per year, including 1,261 in Nigeria, according to 2010 estimates, the latest of its kind.
Executive Director, CAPPA, a Nigerian non-profit supporting a #TransfatFreeNigeria, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “We urge Nigerians to watch and share these PSAs, and support the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in eliminating a toxic chemical that leads to so much avoidable death and disease.”
Already, NAFDAC is in the process of incorporating trans fat into two important regulations, the Fats and Oils Regulation and the Pre-Packaged Food, Water and Ice Labelling Regulations. Draft language published earlier this year would limit trans fat to 2 grammes per 100 grammes of oil and fat in fats, oils, and foods intended for human consumption.
A member of the board of directors of NHED, Dr. Jerome Mafeni, said: “NAFDAC must swiftly finalize and enact strong, mandatory trans fat restrictions that are in line with recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO).”
WHO has called for the global elimination of industrially produced trans fat by 2023, and released the REPLACE action package to guide efforts at the country level.
“Without further action, trans fat will remain in many of the foods we all love to eat,” Mafeni cautioned. International experience shows that trans fat can easily be replaced with healthier alternatives in the baked, processed and packaged foods where it is most common, he added.
At least 29 countries have taken steps to limit trans fat in their food supplies, including South Africa, India, Brazil, United Kingdom (UK), USA, Canada, Turkey and Thailand. There have been consistent calls from health experts and advocates for Nigeria to follow suit.The newly released trans fat PSAs will be broadcast and featured on the #TransfatFreeNigeria campaign’s social media channels.