Around 4.41% of deaths from coronary heart diseases (CHD) in Bangladesh occurred due to the consumption of artificial trans-fat or trans-fatty acid (TFA), which made the country rank 14th out of 194 countries, according to a report.
The "WHO Report on Global Trans Fat Elimination 2020," published on September 9 by the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that 15 countries account for approximately two-thirds of the worldwide deaths linked to trans-fat intake.
Five of these countries – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal – are in South Asia.
Egypt recorded the highest percentage (8.39%) of CHD related death due to the consumption of trans-fat, followed by the United States (7.57%), Iran (6.96%) and Latvia (6.14%).
Pakistan accounted for the highest portion of CHD related deaths from trans-fat in South Asia, followed by India and Bhutan.
Among the top listed countries, USA (2nd), Latvia (4th), Canada (7th), and Slovenia (12th) have already adopted policies to reduce producing industrial trans fats to 2% (2g in per 100g) of oils and fats in all foods or to ban partially hydrogenated oils, while 11 other countries, including Bangladesh, were addressed by the WHO to take actions immediately.
However, developing a TFA standard is still under process by the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI) in Bangladesh.
Indicating the alarming statistics of heart disease related deaths owing to consuming trans-fat, the Head of Epidemiology and Research Department of the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh Prof Dr Sohel Reza Choudhury said, "If we eliminate trans-fat from our diet, we can save a lot of deaths including the premature deaths, as most of the CHD related deaths due to consuming trans-fat occurs among people aged under 40."
He said, "To reduce heart disease related deaths and the rate of heart disease in Bangladesh, trans-fat elimination is essential and it can be easily adopted without changing our behavior."
He also said if the government adopts mandatory regulations, the food industry in Bangladesh will be forced to obey, and trans-fat will be eliminate automatically.
"The best practice would be to follow the WHO's recommendation, which is to contain trans-fatty acid (TFA) within 2% in total fat," he added.
Back in 2018, the WHO called for the global elimination of industrially produced TFA by 2023. In order to provide practical, the step-by-step implementation guidance to support the government, WHO released six REPLACE modules in May 2019.
Moreover, two trends were highlighted in the report – adopting best-practice policies rather than restrictive one and regional regulations.
The National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute (NHFHRI) found that 92% of sampled partially hydrogenated oil (PHO) brands containing more than 2% TFA in Dhaka. Even 20.9% (20.9g per 100g) TFA were found by analysing some samples.
The WHO reported that 58 countries so far have introduced laws that will protect 3.2 billion people from the harmful trans-fats by the end of 2021.
However, more than 100 countries still need to take actions to remove these harmful substances from their food supplies.
Consumption of industrially produced trans-fats are estimated to cause around 500,000 deaths per year due to coronary heart diseases.