Health ministry completes research to study the need for trans fat elimination policy

Bhutan might soon have a trans fat elimination policy in place to stop preventable deaths. The health ministry has completed a research which will serve as a basis for the policy. Medical experts have warned that the consumption of trans fat is harmful to health. And according to the recently released World Health Organisation report, five billion people globally including Bhutanese remain unprotected from harmful trans-fat, increasing their risk of heart disease and death.

Trans fat is an unsaturated fatty acid that comes from either natural or industrial sources. They lower the good cholesterol in the body. It is commonly found in packaged foods, baked goods and cooking oil among others.

Trans fat is known to be one of the main causes of heart disease. And heart disease is one of the diseases that continues to pose a growing burden on the healthcare system in the country.

According to the ministry’s research, almost 90 per cent of the Bhutanese are not aware of trans fat.

“We also asked people if they reuse cooking oil. They said they reuse to minimise wastage. But there is a risk with it. Every time you reuse the oil, you increase the chances of consumption of an increased amount of trans fatty acids,” said Vishal Chhetri, the Laboratory Technologist of RCDC.

Further, the research showed that locally produced oils in the country are found to contain significantly lower levels of trans-fatty acids.

“Locally produced oils like Pangtse makhu and mustard seed oil in the country have minimum fatty acids compared to the imported ones. But these groups of oils are expensive. There is also the issue of storage,” said Vishal Chhetri.

The ministry has yet to release the research which was completed last year.

The WHO in its report recently mentioned Bhutan as one of the nine countries that has the highest estimated proportion of coronary heart disease deaths caused by trans-fat.

The WHO also listed Bhutan as one of the countries that do not have a best-practice policy to eliminate trans-fat.

Kinley Dem

Edited by Sonam Pem

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