NMA Seeks Elimination Of Trans-Fatty Acids From Foods
•Says It’s Responsible For Epidemics Of Sudden Deaths
Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has attributed epidemics of sudden deaths associated with heart attacks to consumption of industrially produced Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs) are toxic chemicals.
The apex body of medical doctors therefore called for the elimination of industrially produced Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs) from Nigeria’s food supply by banning Partially Hydrogenated Oils or setting strict limits on TFAs in food in line with international best practices.
According to NMA, sudden deaths is traceable to CVD have continuously swollen the epidemic proportions and figures of NCDs around the globe and in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, CVD accounts for seven per cent of deaths annually, with NCDs as a whole causing 24 per cent of total deaths. One diet-related factor that contributes heavily to the incidence of CVD is industrially-produced TFA. Industrially-produced TFA is a toxic chemical that increases the risk of heart attack and death, causing 540,000 deaths annually across the globe. This is Nigeria’s chance to deal significantly with an easily preventable risk factor for CVD.
In a press statement signed and made available to DAILY INDEPENDENT Tuesday in Lagos, by Dr Francis Faduyile and Olumuyiwa Odusote, the President and Secretary-General respectively, stated that many countries have demonstrated that eliminating industrially produced TFAs alone can reverse the epidemic proportions of CVD and lower the overall mortality indices of NCDs.
The statement noted that the need to urgently and totally eliminate industrially produced TFAs in all products in the Nigeria food supply cannot be overstressed.
It further said that doing otherwise will mean consequent endorsement of the deaths of more than 18 million people each year from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), despite the availability of effective, inexpensive, and safe prevention and treatment.
The elimination of TFAs has been shown to have substantial health benefits. Several countries have already instituted TFA policies and seen positive results. Prior to the elimination of industrially-produced TFA in Denmark, the CVD mortality rate was 441.5 deaths per 100,000 people. Following the implementation of the ban in 2004, the CVD mortality rate has fallen to 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
“Evidence shows that industrially-produced TFAs can be eliminated from food supply chains with little to no disruption to the public or to the food industry.
“Industrially-produced TFAs can be replaced with healthier alternatives without altering taste or increasing cost.”
NMA therefore encouraged NAFDAC to take this opportunity to eliminate industrially-produced TFAs from all products in the Nigerian food supply chain by strengthening the Draft 2018 Fats & Oils Regulation Policy by banning partially hydrogenated oils in the Nigerian food supply chain – including all domestic and imported products that already include industrially-produced TFAs.
According to the statement, “Doing so will not only save lives, bring health benefits to Nigerian citizens, but also showcase the Agency as a responsive institution of Government that is alive to its responsibilities. It will also be a showpiece of Nigeria’s leadership in public health decision making for the rest of the world especially in the developing regions.
It would be recalled the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on countries to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids (TFAs) from the global food supply, and released an action package called REPLACE that includes policy recommendations and interventions for governments to pursue.
“Backed by scientific evidence and examples of successful TFAs regulation in different countries, the WHO recommends one of two policy pathways.
First is banning the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the source of industrially produced TFAs, in all foods or setting limits on the amount of industrially-produced TFAs to no more than two per cent of the total fat content in all foods.
“It will be recalled that NAFDAC had duly begun the process of reviewing the 2005 Fats & Oils Regulation and has published the Draft 2018 edition of the Fats & Oils Regulation.
“The agency had asked the Nigerian public for contributory memos to enrich the process and content of the review efforts that will produce the 2018 Fats & Oils Regulation in Nigeria.”
NMA however commended this timely effort of the agency which aligns with the global efforts and paradigm shift to narrow the spectrum of risk factors of cardiovascular diseases which have continued to swell the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) around the globe by eliminating industrially produced TFAs from all food supplies.
NMA recognises this as an important step forward in improving the diets and health outcomes of Nigerians and a turning point for Nigeria to join the comity of nations which has successfully eliminated the production, importation, distribution and consumption of industrially produced TFAs from their food supply.
As a responsive and responsible custodian of the health of the Nigerian people; the NMA, in response to the WHO directive summarised in the REPLACE strategy, has put together a pragmatic phased agenda.
The strategy is tagged; ‘Improving the Cardiovascular-health of Nigerians Project’ (The ICON Project) and serves as a veritable platform to engage all stakeholders and mobilise support for NAFDAC and by extension Nigeria to defeat the monster of TFAs and other related risk factors implicated in cardiovascular diseases.
The ICON Project provides a unique opportunity to also address other public health challenges posed by the consumption of industrially-produced TFAs.