Chandigarh : “Deaths due to cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke are on the rise across the country but more so in Punjab. Hypertension is the most important preventable cause for developing cardiovascular diseases. In a clarion call for urgent action and widespread awareness among people to reign in this silent epidemic”, suggest Disha Foundation and Generation Saviour Association during the findings at media dialogue with health experts, policymakers and journalists in Chandigarh. In the meeting Dr GB Singh, Assistant Director, in charge NCD, Health Services, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, talked about the steps that the Government is working on to screen people above 30 years of age for high blood pressure and ensuring that treatment is available to all. “ASHAs and ANMs have been trained to screen people with high blood pressure and to ensure that they register for treatment. The Government is making blood pressure medicines available up to sub centre level. Patients should continue taking medication lifelong to keep their blood pressure under control.”
Two in five adults are hypertensive in Punjab. And almost equal number are in prehypertensive stage who are at risk to develop hypertension. Moreover, intake of trans-fatty acids can increase the risk of death due to heart attack by 28%. As the highest consumer of Vanaspati, Punjab must take immediate steps to limit its consumption by regulating trans fat in oils and foods through stringent policy enforcement.
Motivating people of Punjab to make diet changes will require urgent action in reducing industrially produced trans fats in foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs).
Dr Anoop Kumar, Joint Commissioner, Food and Drug Safety said, “The cardinal solution for preventing needless deaths and safeguarding health of present and future generation is the removal of industrially produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply”. He also assured that the Food Safety Department in Punjab is committed to reducing industrially produced trans fats.
Echoing the sentiment, Dr Eram Rao, Associate Professor, Delhi University said, “Replacing trans fats by healthier fats is possible. Many countries across the world have become trans fats free. Technologies such as full hydrogenation and interesterification can produce almost fats with minimal trans fats. There is little efforts required by food businesses or public.”