Those troublesome trans fats should be gone from Barbadian shelves in a year’s time.
Barbados’ Minister of Health and Wellness, Senator The Most Honourable Dr Jerome Walcott confirmed the island was on course to end the importation of foods with trans fats by December 2024.
It’s all part of the country’s process of protecting consumers of the dangerous ingredients in food that can lead to the onset of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and mental health challenges.
Walcott made the announcement while giving the opening remarks at the three-day Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Ministerial Conference which started Wednesday morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
What are trans fats?
Most trans fats are formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. This partially hydrogenated oil is inexpensive and less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.
The conference, attended by health ministers from SIDS, is geared towards finding an operational plan of action to implement country-specific strategies aimed at reducing NCDs and also dealing with mental-health challenges which have surfaced post the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I trust the deliberations over the next three days to the adoption of a strong and purposeful document that will galvanise the work of Small Island Developing States struggling with NCDs and mental health issues,” the minister said.
He added that the commitment to the conference shown by the World Health Organisation and the Pan American Health Organisation would ensure that no citizen of SIDS dealing with chronic disease is left behind.
“The issues of NCDs and mental health issues are a threat to national development. Tackling them is an integral part of sustaining development. Their prevention and control remains the most challenging area of public health and requires complex coordinated action across governments,” the surgeon suggested.
According to Walcott, NCDs and mental health issues are now “the most challenging public health issues of our time”.
In brief remarks, Brazilian Dr Jarbas Barbosa, the Regional Director of the Pan American Health Organisation, warned most SIDS were now vulnerable to a triple threat in the area of public health, namely NCDs, mental health and climate change. (BA)