From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the #TransfatfreeNigeria campaign coalition have appealed to the Federal Government to establish legislative regulations against the use of trans fat acid in foods in the country.
According to the groups, foods containing trans fat acids are highly unhealthy and have been associated with increased risk of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, kidney diseases, cancers, obesity and many others.
The coalition spoke at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, with the theme “Our actions are our future-better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life – let’s eliminate trans fat for a healthier future”, which was organised to mark the World Food Day.
The event consisted of the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Nigeria Heart Foundation and the Resolve to Save Lives among others.
Speaking, the WHO representative Dr Kazadi Mulomb said Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Cancers are associated with four main risk factors; tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets such as sugar, sodium and trans fat acid.
He said Ingestion of Industrially produced TFA has no known health benefits but instead, is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease with more than 500,000 deaths attributed.
Also in his remarks, the Technical Adviser, TFA-free Nigeria Campaign, Dr Jerome Mafeni, said the life of every single Nigerian is precious, adding that this must be demonstrated by the government by establishing and implementing laws that mitigate against the use of trans fat acids in foods.
‘We need the government to transmit to the populace that they value the life of every Nigerian. People are dying from things that can easily be prevented by simple regulations and the enforcement of relevant policies. Why are we wasting time? So many young Nigerians are having heart failure, kidney failures and other chronic illnesses that we didn’t even know were caused by the food that we consume now that we know why we waste time?,’ Madeni questioned.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), said the recent hike in food prices has increased the challenge of access to good nutrition and better life hence the need to ensure food safety for what is available and affordable.
Oluwafemi insisted that the role of diet in preventing and controlling the morbidity and premature mortality resulting from various non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cannot be overemphasised noting that elimination in the consumption of foods high in trans fat will impact positively the health of Nigerians.
‘Fatalities associated to trans fat consumption in Nigeria has continued to rise especially with the surge in consumption of pastries, fast foods, packaged foods, processed foods, and baked foods which is easily described as junk food, there is even more likelihood that more people will be at risk of major trans fat induced health complications.
‘Food consumption is a critical aspect of human life that we cannot do without hence the need to place emphasis on better nutrition for improved life expectancy and better health outcomes as diseases can be prevented via nutrition hence the need for a regulation to eliminate consumption of trans fat in food. While we commend NAFDAC for its work on the draft regulation, we call on the Federal Ministry of Health to speed up the review and approval of the trans-fat regulation for quick passage by the ministry of justice,’ he stated
Joy Amafah, The Nigeria Coordinator for the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) said the surest way to eliminate TFA or reduce its consumption is through legislation. She said the quick passage of the oils and fat regulations will ensure that the Nigerian government safeguards the lives of millions of its citizens from the harmful fat thereby, raising a healthy population in future.