The National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (N-DOC) under the leadership of Dr. Anoop Misra, with support from the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology, organized a symposium on “Trans Fats: Global and Indian Perspectives,” on 24th April 2010 with a view to promote healthy nutrition and generate awareness on Trans Fatty Acids among health professionals and general public. Doctors, scientists, nutritionists, dietitians, and researchers, as well as representatives from food industry, gathered on one platform to discuss the adverse effects of Trans fats in the Indian scenario, with focus on the current status and future implications of reducing the intake of Trans fatty acids.
Dr. Vinita Sharma, Advisor, DST, initiated the symposium with a welcome note in which she made a fervent appeal to eliminate TFAs from diet, not just by creating consumer consciousness, but also by interventions at the government, industry and scientists’ levels.
Mrs. Rekha Sharma, Chief Dietician at Medanta, in her lecture on “Healthy Indian Diet: Recent Dietary Guidelines” emphasized on healthy eating and balanced diet particularly focusing on the quality of fats in our diet.
Dr Ahmed Ibrahim, scientist at National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, during his presentation on “Trans Fatty Acids: The Chemistry & Measurement” discussed the chemistry of Trans fats and the possible technical methods of assessing them. He also informed that in 2006 WHO recommended the global phasing out of Trans fats. In fact Canada was the first country to introduce TFA content labeling on packaged food, followed by USA.
Mrs. Ishi Khosla, Clinical Nutritionist & Director Whole Foods highlighted the Indian Dietitians Perspective in Global Background on Trans Fats. She pointed out that 40% of supermarket foods, 80% of frozen items, 95% of cookies, 70% of cakes and 50% of cereals are high on trans fats.
Mr. Bejon Mishra International Consumer Expert, Chairman Cell for Consumer Education & Advocacy and Member, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) highlighted the need for generating consumer awareness on Trans Fats and nutrition labeling. He also suggested a logo to indicate trans fats or their absence like the green and red dots for vegetarian/non-vegetarian foodstuffs.
Prof. Anoop Misra in his Key Note lecture on “India & Non Communicable Disease’s: Implication of High Trans Fat Diet” explained the effect of trans fats on human physiology highlighting various scientific studies carried out across the globe on the adverse effects of high Trans fats diet on our health.
The press conference included some eye opening facts on Trans fats: knowledge and practice among women and food manufacturers revealed by Dr. Misra from our ongoing study on Trans fats, carried out with funding from DST. It also included the suggestive guidelines for reduction in Trans fats introduced by Ms. Swati Bhardwaj, Nutritionist and Research Officer N-DOC and Diabetes Foundation (India) in form of a three pronged attack to protect the health of our population from the hazards of TFAs, at the government, industrial and consumer level. During this session a booklet on Trans Fats was also released, for dietitians, nutritionists, medicos and general public. The booklet aims at simplifying the term “Trans Fats” and also presents the details regarding trans fats, its sources and how to avoid it.
Dr. Santosh Jain Passi, Associate Professor Institute of Home Economics, University of Delhi in her lecture on “Red Palm Oil; Nutritional Replacement for TFA Containing Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Fat” highlighted the nutritional properties of Red Palm Oil (RPO) and suggested the use of RPO and RPO blends as a replacement for TFA Containing Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Fats, through different studies done by her on RPO.
Ms. Swati Bhardwaj, Nutritionist and Research Officer N-DOC and Diabetes Foundation (India), in her presentation on “Research Initiatives on TFA” emphasized the research initiatives on TFA being taken up in India, particularly focusing on the ongoing study on TFA being carried out with funding from DST.
Under the industry initiative session Mrs. Renu Kohli, Program Manager – Health & Nutrition, Britannia Industries Ltd. Spoke on Britannia’s initiatives on elimination and reduction of Trans fats from their products and other healthy initiatives taken up by Britannia for improving public health. Ms. Anshu Singh, Wellness Manager at Nestle India Limited also spoke on Nestlé’s initiatives on Incorporating Health and Wellness into common foods focusing on Trans fats.
The suggestive guidelines on trans fats have been submitted to Food Standard & Safety Authority of India (FSSAI) for further action.