Trans fats have been linked to higher cholesterol levels and heart disease, which is why the FDA called for a ban on trans fats from the American food supply in 2015. But the World Health Organization (WHO) has gone even further and urged for a ban on trans fats from the global food supply by 2023.
The harmful trans fats, which are found in some cooking oils, margarine, and shortening (most commonly in processed food and baked goods) are believed to be responsible for about 500,000 premature deaths from heart disease every year, according to the WHO. On May 14, the WHO announced its initiative called REPLACE, which is a guide that will help countries eliminate trans fats worldwide by 2023.
In 2015, the FDA ruled that partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fats, were no longer "generally recognized as safe." Although the United States has taken steps to eliminate trans fats completely by 2018, and Denmark banned trans fats from the food supply in 2003, there are other countries that still have a widespread use of trans fats.
"There are countries where the risk is particularly high. In South Asian countries, they have very, very high risk of heart disease and high intakes of trans fats," said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, according to CNN.
The WHO can't enact a global ban of trans fats, but the REPLACE initiative may urge countries to give them up entirely. REPLACE stands for review dietary sources, promote use of healthier fats, legislate, assess changes, create awareness, and enforce. Hopefully, all countries take the necessary steps to eliminate trans fats from the global food supply.