TRANSFORM Pakistan Campaign Urges Action On Trans-Fatty Acids

Trans fatty acids, also known as TFAs, are unsaturated fatty acids that are mainly created during the hydrogenation process, which turns liquid oils into solid fats.

TRANSFORM Pakistan Campaign Urges Action On Trans-Fatty Acids

The harmful effects of trans-fatty acids (TFAs) on human health have received a lot of attention recently, and Pakistan needs to prioritize regulating their presence in all foods immediately. At the inauguration of the TRANSFORM Pakistan campaign today in Islamabad, Mr. Munawar Hussain, Country Coordinator of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), emphasized these points.

Trans fatty acids, also known as TFAs, are unsaturated fatty acids that are mainly created during the hydrogenation process, which turns liquid oils into solid fats.

It has been demonstrated that these substances increase levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol,” while lowering HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. TFAs have furthermore been linked to a variety of other diseases.

Areebah Shahid, the executive director of PYCA, explained that the GHAI and its partners, Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA) and Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), are working to achieve a mandatory national limit of 2 grams of industrially produced TFA per 100 grams of total fat in all foods in order to reduce the negative effects of TFAs on Pakistan’s public health indicators.

Pakistan, which ranks second in the WHO-EMRO area for TFA consumption, urgently needs to solve this problem. The nation fails to enact TFA laws that are effective, and as a result, it has considerably increased the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Among the leading causes of death in Pakistan are heart disease and stroke. Approximately $2640 million was spent on diabetes in 2021 alone, and estimates suggest that 62 million Pakistanis might have the disease by 2045. In 2015, it was anticipated that obesity will cost the economy PKR 428 billion.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Health Coordinator for Nutrition and the National Fortification Alliance at the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C), said that establishing best policy practices is our top priority before TFAs are completely removed from the food supply.

Although Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority has recently made some significant progress in setting TFA limits, there are still dozens of products like salty snacks, deserts, street foods, chocolates, and confectioneries that could be significant sources of iTFAs but are not yet included in the standards.

“The government of Pakistan is looking at every option to open the door for a stronger and more prosperous country. These include, among other things, mandating TFA limits in accordance with WHO recommendations, requiring front of pack labeling on all ultra-processed foods, promoting healthier substitutes, and raising public awareness.

Senator Fawzia Arshad also promised unequivocal legislative backing for the restriction of trans fats in Pakistani diets and their eventual abolition. As your senator, rest certain that I will support the greatest legislative strategy to guarantee that no food in our nation contains trans fats.

Numerous scientific studies emphasize how urgently this issue has to be addressed. Dr. Anjum Jalal, Executive Director of the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, reaffirmed this while delivering the keynote presentation at the occasion. TFAs have been connected to major health issues such male and female infertility as well as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.

“The government, legislature, and the country’s civil society must come on the same page to overcome the lag we’ve experienced both in terms of policy reforms and creating sufficient demand to regulate trans-fatty acids in all dietary sources across the country for improving public health outcomes and combating the rising tide of non-communicable diseases,” Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Executive Director CPDI, said in summarizing the discussion.