The feasibility of multisectoral policy options aimed at reducing trans fats and encouraging its replacement with healthier oils in India

Shauna M. Downs, Anne Marie Thow, Suparna Ghosh-Jerath, Stephen R. Leeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction The World Health Organization recommends replacement of trans fat with polyunsaturated fat to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Although several high-income countries have been successful in reducing trans fat in the food supply, low-and middle-income countries such as India may face additional contextual challenges such as the large informal sector, lack of consumer awareness, less enforcement capacity and low availability and affordability of healthier unsaturated fats. The objective of this study was to examine the feasibility and acceptability of multisectoral policy options aimed at supporting trans fat reduction and its replacement with polyunsaturated fats in India. Methods Multisectoral policy options examined in this study were identified using food supply chain analysis. Semi-structured interviews (n = 17) were conducted with key informants from agriculture, trade, finance, retail, industry, food standards, non-governmental organizations and the health professions to gain their views on the feasibility and acceptability of the policy options. Purposive sampling was used to identify key informants. Data were coded and organized based on key themes. Results There was support for policies aimed at improving the quality of seeds, supporting farmer co-operatives and developing affordable farming equipment suited to smallholders to improve the production of healthier oils. Increasing the role of the private sector to improve links among producers, processors and retailers may help to streamline the fats supply chain in India. Blending healthier oils with oils high in saturated fat, which are currently readily available, could help to improve the quality of fat in the short term. Improving consumer awareness through mass media campaigns and improved labelling may help increase consumer demand for healthier products. Conclusions Reorienting agricultural policies to support production of healthier oils will help increase their uptake by industry. Policy coherence across sectors will be critical to reduce trans fat intakes and could be improved by increasing engagement among researchers, the private sector and government.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-484
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy

Keywords

  • Trans fat
  • food policy
  • multisectoral policy

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