“It’s time to protect Filipinos’ heart health from the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) caused by trans fatty acids (TFA).”
This was the statement of the Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization Philippines (WHO), and public interest law group ImagineLaw on Valentine’s Day as they called on legislators to pass a measure that will eliminate industrially added TFA in the country’s food supply, as a bid to promote heart health and reduce the risk of CVDs among Filipinos.
The Trans Fat Free Philippines Bills consisting of Senate Bills No. 1916 and 1954, and House Bills No. 7200, 7202, 7934, 8093, and 8128, will ban artificial TFA, most commonly found in food items with partially hydrogenated oils (PHO) such as prepackaged food, baked goods, and fried street and restaurant food.
According to the WHO, TFA is an artificial compound that clogs the arteries and increases the risks of CVDs like heart attacks. CVD is the leading cause of death in the Philippines, claiming around 50,000 Filipino lives every year, and a known comorbidity of COVID-19.
“Corporations and institutions play an important role in creating healthier options for Filipinos. Importante talaga na maka-push pa tayo ng mga policies that will protect Filipinos’ hearts, like for example the Trans Fat Free Philippines Bill that will remove toxic artificial fatty acids from food and in effect, from Filipinos’ households. Law and policies are our society’s norms, so dapat healthy ‘yung norm natin,” said Sen. Risa Hontiveros, co-sponsor of SB 1916, in her Valentine’s Day video greeting, played during the webinar hosted by DOH, WHO and ImagineLaw today, February 14, 2022.
Once enacted into law, it will completely eliminate the toxic fat from the nation’s food supply by prohibiting PHOs, oils, and fats with high TFA content. As such, it will make all types of food sources, including those from informal markets and food establishments, safe and TFA-free.
“In a 2018 study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, it is found that children below six years of age are at most risk for high TFA consumption. With this, we see that TFA does not only have negative effects on adults but also on the youth. The DOH believes that these Bills, once enacted, would greatly contribute to our efforts in creating healthy food environments in our schools and communities,” said Dr. Beverly Ho, Director IV of the DOH Health Promotion Bureau.
Civil society groups such as the Nutrition Foundation of the Philippines (NFP), Nutritionist Dietitians Association of the Philippines (NDAP), Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians (PSND), and Nutrition Center of the Philippines (NCP) also supported the call for trans fat elimination in the country.
“As Filipinos grapple with the effects of the ongoing pandemic, legislators must act with urgency to promote citizens’ heart health and strengthen their resilience against COVID-19. This Valentine’s Day, we call on the legislators to promote Filipinos’ right to heart health and safe and nutritious food, starting with the urgent enactment of this Bill,” Atty. Sophia San Luis, ImagineLaw’s Executive Director emphasized.
VIDEO LINK (reporters are given permission to download and broadcast):
Watch the Valentine’s Day webinar here: transfatfreephilippines.org/