Health

Experts tasks media to influence elimination of Trans-Fat Acids

Supreme Desk
18 Nov 2021 3:43 PM GMT
Experts tasks media to influence elimination of Trans-Fat Acids
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He defined trans-fat as unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources. Naturally-occurring trans-fat come from ruminants (cows and sheep).

Some public health experts have called on the media to play agenda setting role to influence policies and regulations that will contribute to the elimination of Trans-Fat Acids (TFA) in the country. They made the call in Abuja on Thursday at a two-day "Journalists, Digital Media Training on Trans-Fat Reporting," organised by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Trans-Fat Free Nigeria.


Participants at a two-day Journalists, Digital Media on Trans-fat Reporting in Abuja

Dr Salisu Abubakar of Nutrition and Dietetics Unit, Biochemistry Department and Africa Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy, Bayero University Kano (BUK), said that media's role in actualising trans-fat free Nigeria was imperative. He defined trans-fat as unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources. Naturally-occurring trans-fat come from ruminants (cows and sheep).

According to him, industrially-produced trans-fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, converting the liquid into solid, resulting in "partially hydrogenated oil. Approximately 540,000 deaths can be attributed to intake of industrially produced trans-fatty acids annually. High trans-fat intake increases the risk of death from any cause by 34 per cent, coronary heart disease deaths by 28 per cent, and coronary heart disease by 21 per cent.

He said it is likely due to the effect on lipid levels: trans-fat increases ("bad") cholesterol levels while lowering ("good") cholesterol levels. Trans-fat has no health benefit. There is urgent need for action/setting agenda to influence policies and regulations that will contribute to the elimination of trans-fat in Nigeria. In addition, the role of media in setting agenda for the actualisation of Trans-Fat Free Nigeria cannot be overemphasised."

Hema Kahanchandani of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), called for immediate gazetting and full enforcement of TFA regulation in Nigeria. Kahanchandani recalled that in 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO), called for global elimination of industrially produced TFA by 2023 through what it called the "Replace Action Framework".

She added that the framework was designed as a roadmap for countries to implement prompt, complete and sustained elimination of industrially produced TFA from food supply. She said in Nigeria, there were approximately 854,000 estimated deaths in 2019, of which, approximately 137,000 were attributed to cardiovascular deaths and 3,229 attributed to TFA-related cardiovascular deaths.

Laura Rodriguez, Digital Communication Expert of Global Wave Digital, urged media practitioners to use online and mobile tools to engage relevant policy and decision makers to achieve trans-fat free in the country. She noted that "participating journalists should plan a branded day of action to call on policy makers for action, complete with media outreach, social media content, influencer engagement, live/offline events, and more.

She added they should also follow digital channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and actively monitor the hashtag — #TransfatfreeNigeria. It would help to keep track of campaign updates and identify individuals for interviews, as well as creating Twitter lists for Trans Fat Free Nigeria campaign. It would allow you to keep campaign spokespeople, NAFDAC, other key decision makers and others.

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