The city of Lagos came alive when forty-two persons (42) comprising of volunteers, media practitioners, and staff of CAPPA marched along major streets of Ikeja and environs on February 14, 2021, to enlighten citizens on the dangers of consuming foods containing trans-fatty acids. The rally which was part of a variety of transfat free advocacy activities scheduled for Valentine’s Day started with an energetic walk from Ogba, Ikeja, to the busy Computer Village, also in the Ikeja. The march featured a display of placards with varying messages such as ‘‘Stop recycling oils’’, ‘‘Stop using black and dirty oils to cook’’, ‘‘Stop reusing oils for your meals, it causes cardiovascular diseases’’, all of which charged Nigerians to avoid foods containing transfat during and beyond Valentine’s Day.[spacer height=”25px”]
Addressing members of the public at the Computer Village, Dr. Francis Fagbule, a public health professional said it was important to reduce and eliminate trans-fatty acid (TFAs) in food intake. Fagbunle emphasized that, unlike other dietary fats, trans-fatty acids are associated with cardiovascular diseases which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the leading cause of deaths globally with an estimate of 17.9 million deaths alone in 2020.[spacer height=”25px”]
Trans fats are produced through an industrial process that introduces hydrogen into vegetable oil thereby causing the oil to become solid at room temperature. This process of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil is often adopted by manufacturers to increase the shelf life of processed foods. The manufactured form of transfat also known as partially hydrogenated oil can be found in food products like margarine, oil, popcorn, a variety of snacks, confectionery and bakery products, etc. Transfat increases the bad cholesterol in the human body which could lead to illnesses that break the hearts of family and friends when they watch loved ones succumb to TFA-induced deaths.[spacer height=”25px”]
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi also seized the opportunity to call on the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) to hasten the passage of the ‘Fats and Oils Regulations, 2020’’ to save Nigerians from needless illnesses and deaths that arise from the consumption of trans fatty acids. The implementation of the legislation will strengthen the regulation of Trans fatty acids in the country’s food chain and in addition, realize the mandate of the WHO’s REPLACE action package. The package provides a strategic approach to eliminating industrially produced transfat from national and global food supply chains by the year 2023.