WHO wants to eliminate artificial trans fats by 2023

The World Health Organization has launched REPLACE, an initiative to eliminate artificial trans fats from the global food supply by 2023, according to CNN.

The initiative, launched May 14, will offer countries across the globe guidance on how to remove these artificial fats from their food, with an ultimate goal of worldwide eradication.

Artificial trans fats are formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, causing the oil to harden. While hydrogenated oil doesn't spoil as quickly as plain vegetable oil, it has some harmful heath effects. A diet laden with trans fats raises LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, which increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Trans fats are commonly found in fried food, snack food, baked goods and margarine.

The REPLACE initiative — which stands for review dietary sources; promote use of healthier fats; legislate; assess changes; create awareness; and enforce — marks the first time WHO is calling for elimination of a lifestyle factor that drives chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

"This initiative is meant to lead countries in establishing legislation to eliminate the trans fats," Francesco Branca, MD, PhD, director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the WHO, told CNN.

The FDA already has taken steps toward eliminating trans fats from foods in the U.S. In 2015, the federal agency gave food companies three years to cut artificial trans fats with partially hydrogenated oils from processed foods. The WHO initiative is aimed at eliminating the fats globally.

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