Health

Act now to protect nigerians from trans-fatty foods, groups task govt

The Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has urged the Nigerian government to fast-track the approval of the two draft regulations initiated by the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which seek to reduce the amount of trans-fat in food consumed in the country.

In a statement issued upon the recent release of this year’s “World Health Organisation Report on Global Trans-Fat Elimination 2020,” the groups lamented that the two regulations; the ‘Fats and Oils Regulation 2019’ and the ‘Pre- Packaged Foods, Water and Ice- Labelling Regulations 2019,’ were yet to be approved several months after works were completed on them. According to the Global Trans-fat Report, of the 17.9 million deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases globally, about 10 million are associated with dietary risk. It also stressed that trans-fat consumption is asso-ciated with increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease.

In his foreword to the Report, the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes – kill 41 million people worldwide every year.” He further stated: “Industrially produced trans-fatty acids (TFA), which are still used in some countries as an ingredient in fried food, deep-fried food, baked goods and spreads, are linked with heart disease and death.

But they can be completely eliminated and replaced with healthier oils and fats without changing the taste or cost of food.” NHED and CAPPA however, noted that although, the 2020 report acknowledged the Nigerian government’s effort towards trans fat elimination in foods, the country needs to speed up those efforts to enable the nation meet the WHO 2023 deadlines. The Country Technical Lead of NHED, Dr. Jerome Mafeni, said: “Trans-fat consumption has become a major public health concern, even more so at this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government needs firm and stiff regulations to promote a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle so as to reduce our national cardiovascular diseases burden.” Similarly, CAPPA the Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi stated: “We do recognise the Ministry of Health and NAFDAC’s efforts towards the NAFDAC regulations, we are however worried by the slow pace regarding the approval of the draft regulations. We, therefore plead that urgent actions are needed to halt unnecessary deaths from Trans-fat consumption.” The WHO had on May 14, 2018, released the REPLACE package advising governments across the world that, “eliminating trans fat is key to protecting health and saving lives.” The REPLACE package is a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially- produced trans-fatty acids from global food supply.

 

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