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November 15, 2019updated 22 Nov 2019 8:36am

Exposure to industrial TFA an ongoing risk factor in cardiovascular disease

Denmark was the first country to eliminate trans-fatty acids from its industrial food supply in 2004, followed by Canada, the EU, and the US. 

By GlobalData Healthcare

The intake of trans-fatty acids (TFA) has been associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

CVD refers to a group of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels and is thought to cause over 18 million deaths each year. The use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil containing TFA was developed in the food industry due to its long shelf life, low cost, and suitability for commercial frying and transporting. National advances have been made in setting new regulations to ban TFAs in industrial cooking, but a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report stated that around five billion people are still at risk of TFA exposure.

A common type of CVD is coronary heart disease (CHD), which often results in heart failure. GlobalData epidemiologists have estimated an increase in the diagnosed prevalent cases of chronic heart failure (CHF) in men and women over the age of 45 years across the seven major markets (7MM: the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Japan) from 2019–2026 (Figure 1). 

There are an estimated 15 million diagnosed prevalent cases of CHF in 2019 in the 7MM. This is set to increase to 17 million diagnosed prevalent cases of CHF in 2026, showing an annual growth rate of around 1.20%. With increasing cases of CHF, in addition to other types of CVDs worldwide, it is important to understand the risk factors contributing to these diseases to reduce them. 

The consumption of industrial TFA is a preventable risk factor contributing to CVD and global regulations could eliminate its usage in the industrial food supply chain. A WHO recommendation to promote cardiovascular health said that TFA intake should be less than 1% of total energy intake. Denmark was the first country to eliminate TFA from its industrial food supply in 2004, followed by Canada, the EU, and the US. 

Although progress has been made, over 110 countries still have no national regulations in place to prevent industrial TFA usage, with the majority of these being low-income and middle-income countries. For example, many countries in South Asia and Africa continue to use TFA commercially due to its inexpensive nature. 

In May 2018, the WHO launched a campaign to eliminate industrial TFA use globally by 2023. To reach this goal, all countries worldwide will need to introduce policies to prevent industrial TFA usage. 

Related Reports

GlobalData (2017) Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Epidemiology Forecast to 2026, Epidemiology model, October 2017, GDHCER166-17

GlobalData (2019) Respiratory Syncytial Virus: Epidemiology Forecast to 2028, Epidemiology model, October 2019, GDHCER217-19

GlobalData (2019) Heart Failure: Epidemiology Forecast to 2025, Epidemiology model, May 2016, GDHCER117-16

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