Two NGOs on anti-trans fats have called on the three tiers of government to make concerted efforts toward regulation of trans fats use.
The Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), made the call on Wednesday in Abuja in commemorating of the 2020 World Heart Day.
Newsmen reports that the World Heart Day commemorates every Sept. 29 are to remind governments across the globe on how lifestyle changes, including consumption of unhealthy food lead to ill-health.
The NHED Country Technical Lead, Dr Jerome Mafeni, urged the governments to show leadership and set the pace on the African continent by ensuring the elimination of trans fats in Nigerian foods.
Mafeni said: “With cardiovascular diseases as the leading cause of deaths globally and accounting for 31 per cent of deaths worldwide, Nigeria has what it takes to lead the charge on trans fat on the continent.
“Research findings show that trans fat is a burden on healthcare systems and could overwhelm Nigeria and the African continent, if concerted efforts are not made to get rid of it in foods consumed by the citizenry.
“At the moment, it is very easy for people to simply make do with what they can find; especially with the devastation of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even, as they make the choices, the onus is on the government to ensure that they are safe and not unduly exposed to harm because of foods they consume,” he said.
Also, Executive Director of CAPPA, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that commemoration of the Day should push the Nigerian Government to action in stemming food-induced cardiovascular illnesses.
“Not acting now to check consumption of Trans fats will rattle an already fragile healthcare system,” Oluwafemi said.
According to him, there is need for government to pass the draft regulation on trans fat and oils and ensure that industry players are monitored.
“For now, it is the ‘Pre-Packaged Foods, Water and Ice-labelling Regulations 2019,’ but we need to take it beyond draft stage to concrete law.
“With 11 per cent of over two million deaths in Nigeria, as at 2019 attributed to cardiovascular diseases, Nigerians need to know what they are consuming.
“Also, they should trust that the ingredients and proportions listed in labels are true and not misleading,” he said.