SWITZERLAND – The World Health Organization (WHO) status report has revealed that about five billion people globally remain unguarded from harmful trans fat, increasing their risk of heart disease and death.

The report, called “Countdown to 2023 – WHO report on global trans fat elimination 2022”, is an annual status report published by WHO in collaboration with Resolve to Save Lives, to track progress towards the goal of trans fat elimination in 2023.

Population coverage of best-practice policies has expanded about six-fold since WHO initially advocated for the global eradication of industrially produced trans fat in 2018 with an elimination target set for 2023.

As per the report, 2.8 billion people are now safeguarded worldwide thanks to 43 nations that have adopted best-practice laws to combat trans fats in food.

However, despite significant progress, this still exposes 5 billion people to the devasting health effects of trans fat, making the global target for its complete eradication in 2023 now unachievable.

Industrially produced trans fat (also called industrially produced trans-fatty acids) is commonly found in packaged foods, baked goods, cooking oils, and spreads. 

Trans fat intake is responsible for up to 500 000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year around the world.

“Trans fat has no known benefit and huge health risks that incur huge costs for health systems. By contrast, eliminating trans fat is cost-effective and has enormous benefits for health. 

“Put simply, trans fat is a toxic chemical that kills and should have no place in food. It’s time to get rid of it once and for all,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

There is currently no best-practice policy in place in 9 of the 16 countries with the highest estimated percentage of coronary heart disease mortality attributed to trans fat consumption.

Australia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are among them.

Best practices in trans fat removal policies minimize industrially produced trans fat in all contexts and adhere to specified standards set forth by the WHO.

5 billion people are still exposed to the devastating health effects of trans fat, making the global target for its complete eradication in 2023 now unachievable.


There are two best-practice policy options namely, a mandatory national limit of 2 grams of industrially produced trans fat per 100 grams of total fat in all foods; and a mandatory national ban on the production or use of partially hydrogenated oils (a major source of trans fat) as an ingredient in all foods.

“Progress in eliminating trans fat is at risk of stalling, and trans fat continues to kill people. Every government can stop these preventable deaths by passing a best-practice policy now. The days of trans fat killing people are numbered — but governments must act to end this preventable tragedy,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives.

WHO has partnered with Resolve to Save Lives, a not-for-profit organization, to support the development and implementation of the REPLACE action package. 

Launched in 2018, the WHO’s REPLACE action package provides a strategic approach to eliminating industrially produced trans fat from national food supplies.

Middle-income countries come on-board

While the majority of trans fat elimination regulations to date have been implemented in higher-income nations (primarily in the Americas and in Europe), an increasing number of middle-income nations, including Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Paraguay, the Philippines, and Ukraine, are implementing or adopting these regulations.

In 2023, best-practice regulations will also be under consideration in Mexico, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka. If approved, Nigeria will become the second-largest nation in Africa to implement legislation banning trans fats.

No low-income country has yet enacted a best-practice trans fat ban policy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that nations concentrate on adopting a best-practice policy, monitoring and surveillance, healthy oil replacements, and advocacy in 2023, having created a guidance document to steer rapid advances.

In accordance with the International Food and Beverage Alliance’s (IFBA) pledge, WHO also urges food manufacturers to eliminate trans fat manufactured industrially from their products.

Additionally, it has asked major suppliers of oils and fats to remove industrially produced trans fat from the products sold to food manufacturers globally.

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