The World Health Organization wants to eliminate trans fatty acids (AGT) from the diet, which promote cardiovascular disease. TFAs present in margarines, industrial pastries and foods cooked or fried in cooking oil are responsible for more than 500,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease each year worldwide, according to the WHO.
The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched, this Monday, May 14, a strategy for the elimination of trans fatty acids (TFA) of industrial origin from food by to 2023. An approach that is part of a movement that began more than a decade ago and which could “save more than 10 million lives”, according to the WHO. The consumption of artificial TFAs, present in margarines, industrial pastries and foods cooked or fried in cooking oil, is “responsible for more than 500,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease each year worldwide” , according to the international institution.
Trans fatty acids used in industry singled out
The six strategic actions proposed by the WHO are grouped together under the acronym “Replace”. They are structured as follows: drawing up an inventory of sources of TFAs of industrial origin, promoting healthier fats, taking legislative measures to eliminate TFAs of industrial origin, evaluating changes in consumption, raising awareness of the harmful effects of AGT and enforce policies and regulations.
Some unsaturated fatty acids are of natural origin and are present in ruminant meat, milk and dairy products. Others, produced industrially, in particular by hydrogenation of vegetable oils, are used in the food industry as stabilizers and as preservatives. Many products, such as pastries, industrial pizzas, quiches, chocolate bars, ready meals, will increase TFA dietary intake.
Prioritize natural fatty acids
However, as the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) explains on its website, “epidemiological studies have shown that excessive consumption of trans fatty acids (intakes greater than 2% of total energy intake) is associated with an increased cardiovascular risk. These effects go through an increase in “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and a decrease in “good” cholesterol (HDL)”. Conversely, specifies the Agency, “no increase in cardiovascular risk has been demonstrated with the consumption of trans fatty acids of natural origin, at the levels of consumption currently observed in France”.
As a result, in 2005 the French agency had set the maximum threshold for TFA intake at 2% of total energy intake – the WHO lowering this threshold further to 1% thereafter. In 1998-1999, the first INCA food consumption survey (individual and national on food consumption) showed that in France, boys aged 12 to 14 were the age group that consumed the most TFAs, with nearly 8g/day. Subsequent surveys were more reassuring with average intakes below the threshold of 2% of total energy intake.