The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in Pakistan has raised concerns over the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. In a letter addressed to key officials, CPDI has urged the provincial government to take immediate action to regulate the consumption of trans-fats in all foods. With NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes on the rise, it is crucial to implement measures to mitigate the dietary risk factors contributing to these health issues.
1. The Alarming Rise of Non-Communicable Diseases in Pakistan
- Latest health statistics reveal that NCDs account for around 60 percent of deaths in Pakistan.
- Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension are the leading causes of premature mortality and disabilities.
- NCDs impose significant financial burdens and reduce the quality of life for individuals and their families.
2. The Role of Trans-Fats in NCDs
- Unregulated consumption of unhealthy food containing harmful ingredients like trans-fatty acids (TFAs) contributes to the rise of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- TFAs are commonly found in fats used for cooking, processed foods, and snacks.
- Studies show that approximately 33 million people in Pakistan suffer from diabetes, with an additional 10 million being pre-diabetic.
3. Urgent Need for Regulation and Concrete Measures
- CPDI urges the Balochistan Government to implement concrete measures to ban unhealthy food and beverages from public procurements, official meetings, and functions.
- Restricting the availability of unhealthy food in schools, hospitals, and public parks is crucial.
- Government subsidies on harmful products, such as sugars and banaspati ghee, should be eliminated.
4. Engaging with the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA)
- CPDI calls for the provincial government to collaborate with PSQCA in formulating mandatory and enforceable standards for all food items.
- The quantity of TFAs should not exceed 2 percent in food products.
5. Promoting Public Awareness and Encouraging Healthy Choices
- Public awareness campaigns should be implemented to educate consumers about the risks associated with unhealthy dietary choices.
- CPDI suggests providing subsidies for healthy foods to encourage a healthier population and boost the country’s GDP.
What are non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?
Non-communicable diseases are medical conditions that are not caused by infectious agents and cannot be transmitted from person to person. Examples include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
Why are trans-fats harmful?
Trans-fats are harmful because they increase the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body and decrease the levels of good cholesterol (HDL). This imbalance raises the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health issues.
How can the government regulate trans-fats in food?
The government can regulate trans-fats by setting mandatory standards for the maximum allowable quantity of TFAs in food products. Regular inspections and penalties for non-compliance can also be implemented.
Why is public awareness important in addressing NCDs?
Public awareness plays a vital role in addressing NCDs as it educates individuals about the risks associated with unhealthy dietary choices. This knowledge empowers people to make healthier decisions and reduces the burden of NCDs on society.
How can subsidies for healthy foods contribute to the GDP?
By providing subsidies for healthy foods, the government can incentivize their consumption. A healthier population will lead to a lower prevalence of NCDs, resulting in fewer healthcare costs and increased productivity, ultimately contributing to the country’s GDP.