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  /  Artificial trans fatty acids in food supply: A global health threat

Artificial trans fatty acids in food supply: A global health threat

Veera Kristiina Salomaa and Ihab Tewfik, University of Westminster, UK

Purpose: Evidence of adverse health effects of artificial trans fatty acids (TFAs) have accumulated since 1990s, yet TFAs are widely used by several food manufacturers around the world. This review aimed to: ascertain the available evidence of the known unfavourable biochemical properties of artificial TFAs, their metabolic functions and health consequences; estimate their average intake levels and trends in different countries in order to critically evaluate whether more action is required to eliminate them from the diet.

Methodology: The published evidence was searched by employing: Medline, Pubmed, InterScience, BioMed Central and Annual Reviews.

Findings: With reference to human health, evidences from epidemiological, retrospective and observational studies revealed that the consumption of TFAs could outweigh the health risks posed by saturated fat consumption. The main health concerns included unfavourably altered blood cholesterol concentrations, insulin resistance, foetal brain and neural disturbances, proinflammatory and carcinogenic responses. Great variation exists in the global trends of industrial TFAs intake, being low in Mediterranean region, Japan and Scandinavia and high in parts of United States of America and Iceland. Besides the intense use of TFAs by food manufacturers and in eateries, the use of TFAs in food products is often poorly regulated and ill-informed to consumers.

Value: Since competitive alternatives to TFAs have made them non-mandatory a broad public health intervention at government level to regulate or completely eliminate them from the national diet is warranted.

Keywords: Artificial Trans Fatty Acids; Coronary Heart Disease; Trans Fatty Acid Intake Levels; Regulation and Labelling