Dr Joana Ansong, the Health Promotion Officer at the WHO Ghana Office has applauded the Healthy Diet Alliance Ghana (HeDAG) for taking up a project to eliminate trans-fatty acids (TFAs) in food production in Ghana.
She noted that TFA has been a major contributing factor to non-communicable diseases and obesity, especially among children and that the project was extremely useful to save many lives.
She made the commendation via zoom meeting with the Steering Committee members of HeDAG in Accra.
She reiterated the WHO’s commitment to supporting the project by making available a nutrition officer to the Alliance while advising for the involvement of UNICEF as children were the most vulnerable to TFA products.
Dr Ansong urged the members of HeDAG to look out for best practices during the implementation of the project so that they would avoid the situation of re-inventing the wheel.
Mr Issah Ali, the Project Manager of the Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), the leading civil society organization in the implementation of the HeDAG project expressed gratitude to the WHO for its support to the organization.
He outlined some of the project activities as the conducting of a desk review of legislations, policies, and regulatory frameworks, holding consultations with government stakeholders, developing and producing of awareness creation materials for distribution and project launch and media encounter.
Mr Ali said they would also organize technical meetings with members of Parliament, engage with regulators and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), professional and trade bodies, and hold media outreaches.
The TFA products could be produced industrially by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable and fish oils. “These oils are most frequently found in baked and fried foods, prepared or pre-packaged snacks and food, and cooking oils and spreads,” according to Ms Mary Kpogo, Project Officer of INSLA.
“They were developed as a replacement for animal fats such as butter, but are also used to increase the shelf-life of foods and oils by lowering their oxidation potential as well as to alter the texture while their cost is lower than that of animal fats,” she stated.
Ms Kpogo mentioned the health effects of TFA as heart diseases, stroke, mortality, increases inflammation of those with obesity, damages the inner lining of blood vessels, insulin resistance and increases type ‘2’ diabetes and also increases the risk of death by 34 percent.
She said the products increase levels of unhealthy cholesterol and that according to the WHO, globally; the intake of TFA is estimated to be responsible for more than 500,000 deaths per year.