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CSOs launch videos to support trans-fat elimination in Nigeria

Civil society organizations have launched a series of Public Service Announcement (PSAs) on regulating trans-fat consumption in Nigeria.

Civil society organizations have launched a series of Public Service Announcement (PSAs) on regulating trans-fat consumption in Nigeria.

At a virtual event projected from Abuja on July 16, 2020, the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) unveiled the PSAs for use by public health groups.

The groups expressed concern on the public health dangers which trans fat causes, cautioning that the impacts would be far more insidious under the COVID 19 climate except something is done urgently.

Speaking during the virtual launch, the Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi cited research findings which revealed that sustained high trans fat in the body, leads to increased bad cholesterol, lowered good cholesterol, coronary heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive diseases.

Oluwafemi added that trans fat consumption also increases the risk of heart attack and death with an estimated 540,000 fatalities globally in 2010, according to the latest available data. Of this number, 1,261 were recorded in Nigeria.

Dr Jerome Mafeni, NHED technical adviser, on the project for eliminating trans-fat, explained that, “Industrially produced trans fatty acids are silent killers which very few people know about yet they are present in many of the foods we all love to eat.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made global trans fat elimination a priority (World Health Organization, 13th General Programme of Work, WHO/PRP/18.1 (2019)), and has called on governments to enact mandatory measures to protect the public health from trans fat consumption (World Health Organization, REPLACE, Module 4: Legislate or regulate, WHO/NMH/NHD/19.14 (2019)).

The WHO considers a mandatory limit of 2g of trans fat per 100g of total fat in all fats, oils, and foods to be a best-practice measure.

At least 29 countries have taken steps to limit trans fat in their food supplies, including South Africa, India, Brazil, UK, USA, Canada, Turkey and Thailand. There has been a consistent call 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.

What are transfats?

Keep your butter from churned milk. Margarine isn’t your butterfat from animal. It is an imitation of butter made from processed and sometimes altered vegetable oils.

A process called hydrogenation produces fats and oils that have longer shelf lives and probably taste better.

But this same process also introduces something called “trans unsaturated fatty acids” into the fats and oils used in cooking and baking.

The food industry has upped the ante of TFAs in snack food, packaged food, baked goods and frying fast food.

Unfortunately TFAs lower levels of “good” cholesterol in your body and raise the levels of “bad” cholesterol.

Diets rich in TFAs increase chances of heart disease (cardiovascular disease).

It is typical in atherosclerosis—when the walls of the blood vessels harden, form plaques, which may build up to cause blockage of blood vessels, or dislodge and travel to other parts of the body to cause blockages.

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