Chandigarh : 7 August : Intake of Trans-Fatty Acids (TFA) can increase the risk of death due to heart attack by 28% in the state of Punjab. In a clarion call for eliminating trans-fats from oils, fats, and foods, the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER organized a webinar with the health experts in Chandigarh. The dialogue was also supported by the Strategic Institute for Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER), Chandigarh. The release of the second edition of the e-newsletter Cardio-Health was followed by the inauguration of e-Resource Centre for Cardiovascular Health (http://rccvh.org/) during the webinar.

Experts including Dr Sonu Goel, Professor, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGI, Chandigarh; Dr Poonam Khanna, Associate Professor of Nutrition, PGIMER, Chandigarh; Dr Rakesh Gupta, Director of Public Health (SIPHER); Dr Om Prakash Bera, Country Coordinator, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, USA; and Ms Opinder K Gill, Director Programs, Generation Saviour Association (GSA) also spoke at the occasion, underscoring the importance of elimination of trans-fats across the globe.

Speaking on Trans-fats and health risks, Dr Poonam Khanna said, “For every extra gram of trans fatty acids consumed per day will increase the risk of heart attack or heart disease by about 5%”. Highlighting the figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Khanna said that trans-fat intake leads to over 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases.

Briefing about the project undertaken by PGI Chandigarh to eliminate trans-fats in the state of Punjab, Dr Sonu Goel said that “Our project: Strengthening Management of Hypertension Services through Capacity Building, Media and communication and stakeholder’s management is currently working on three major aspects, which includes strengthening of hypertension services, technical support for Health and Wellness Centres, and Elimination of trans-fats in the state”.

Dr Om Prakash Bera briefed about the global scenario of trans-fats elimination. He further called for developing effective policy measures for TFA elimination that can be implemented and sustained in the state of Punjab and across the country.

Ms Opinder Preet Kaur, President, Generation Saviour Association, an NGO working for better health of future generations, said: “There is limited awareness about the ill effects of trans fats, intake of which increases bad cholesterol and decreases good cholesterol levels in our body. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has already put in place a regulation to limit trans-fatty acids in all oils and fats to not more than 2% by January 2022”.

Dr Rakesh Gupta administered a pledge to all the participants regarding the elimination of Trans fats from food and conducted an open discussion session at the end of the programme. While answering a query on trans-fats causing kidney failure, he said, “Saturated fats increase the levels of albuminuria. However, more research needs to be done. People with cardiovascular diseases have high risks of heart disease so they have to be more cautious about the selection of cooking oil consumed as food”.

Key Takeaways from the Deliberation:

· Existing regulation says that maximum limit of trans fat, should not be more than 5% by weight vegetable fat/oil, bakery and industrial margarine, and vanaspati, however, at the same time, it is challenging forFood Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)to reach unregistered and unauthorized street vendors.

· People across the country are not much aware of trans-fats and the risk factor associated with it; a subject to be addressed immediately.

· Undoubtedly, the food department plays a pivotal role in implementing measures to keep a check on the percentage of trans-fats at manufacturer, distributor, food business operator, and consumer level.

· It is high time to understand we may generate demand by saying no to trans-fats keeping in mind the adverse health effects. The production process destroys labile omega-3 acids and reduces the propensity for fats to become rancid, increases shelf life, and optimizes shelf life and optimizes deep frying applications.

· Scientific evidence speaks that consumption of trans-fats may have adverse effects on coronary heart diseases, increases DM risks, obesity, and colon cancer etc.