Of the major NCDs, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) were the leading cause of NCD mortality in 2016, and were responsible for almost half of all NCD deaths. Modifiable risk factors such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol are major causes of CVDs.
The draft recommendations, the first since 2002, are aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases, led by cardiovascular diseases, blamed for 72 per cent of the 54.7 million estimated deaths worldwide every year, many before the age of 70.
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Trans-fatty acids can occur naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, etc). Dietary saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids are of particular concern as high levels of intake are correlated with increased risk of CVDs, noted the WHO.
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The dietary recommendations are based on scientific evidence developed in the last 15 years, he added.
World Health Organization said only 1% or less of calories should be from trans fat, commonly found in baked and fried foods, processed foods, and cooking oils. As part of this process, WHO Member States and all relevant stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft guidelines. The WHO had earlier released updated guidance on the intake of sodium, potassium and sugars, and is now looking at finalising a similar scale for the intake of saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids. During this time, the draft guidelines will also undergo peer-review by an external expert group. One cup of milk with 1% fat contains 4.6 grams of saturated fat, while one teaspoon of butter is 2.4 grams. Submissions received without a completed, signed DOI form will not be considered.
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"If we really want to get rid of the dangers of the excess trans-fat then there must be a very strong, energetic action from governments to ensure that manufactured products do not use hydrogenated vegetable oil", said Dr. Francesco Branca, WHO's nutrition director.