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Dissemination of Heartfile’s Research “Assessment of Transfats in Pakistan’s Food Chain”


Heartfile, a leading health think tank NGO, organized a dissemination event on 20th March 2024, at the Ramada Hotel in Islamabad to present the findings of their collaborative research project titled “Assessment of Transfats in Pakistan’s Food Chain,” conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Health. The study focused on evaluating the contents of trans fat – a diet-based risk factor associated with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the industrially produced fat and oil products as well as potential trans rich foods.
Prominent figures from various sectors, including government representatives and health experts from across Pakistan, gathered to participate in this significant event.
Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Coordinator Nutrition MONHSRC, provided a comprehensive overview of the study’s rationale and detailed the collaborative efforts between the Ministry, WHO, and Heartfile in developing the REPLACE package. Dr. Ahmed also highlighted the challenges faced in reducing trans fats in food products to 2%, citing limited testing capacity as a significant hurdle. Additionally, he emphasized the impact of sugar as a dietary risk factor and noted the effectiveness of increased sugar taxes in reducing product sales. Dr. Ahmed mentioned the readiness of the National Action Plan for dietary risk factors for dissemination.
Mr. Omer Mukhtar Tarar from PCSIR shared key findings from the research titled “Assessment of Trans Fats in Pakistan’s Food Chain,” contributing valuable insights to the discussion.
During the session, prominent figures in trans fat control and public health advocacy suggested incorporating samples from utility store products in future research and advocated for broader outreach efforts to promote healthier alternatives during Ramadan. Collaboration for effective policy enforcement and behavior change was stressed, highlighting challenges such as limited testing labs for trans fats and the importance of maintaining testing validity while controlling costs. Proactive measures were shared regarding testing food products, and a coordinated advocacy approach on social media was recommended for impactful campaigns. Comprehensive regulation of all fat types and the adoption of WHO standards for trans fatty acids in all foods was agreed amongst all stakeholders. Additionally, a rapid and cost-effective method for measuring trans fats using FTIR spectroscopy was introduced, showcasing its accessibility and potential impact across different regions. It was discussed that its feasibility in Pakistan needs to be explored further.
Dr. Saba Amjad concluded the session by expressing gratitude for the collaboration.
The insights and recommendations shared during this gathering are expected to pave the way for informed policy decisions and collaborative efforts towards promoting healthier dietary practices in Pakistan.