Nigeria can save N12bn in 10 years by reducing trans fat in food – Institute

New findings by The George Institute for Global Health has revealed that significantly reducing trans fat levels in the Nigerian food supply could prevent approximately 10,000 heart disease deaths and save 90 million USD (12 billion Naira, ₦) in healthcare costs over a decade.

New findings also found that the policy could prevent or postpone 67,000 cases of heart disease within the first ten years. This equates to a total of 260,000 deaths and 480,000 cases of heart disease prevented across the entire lifetime of the population.

Lead author and Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute Dr Matti Marklund said, although trans fat intakes in Nigeria may be considerably lower than in many other countries, our analysis indicates that its trans fat policy could still save thousands of lives in just a matter of years.

According to him, analysis found the policy to be cost-saving, meaning that it would improve health while generating net savings.

He said the total healthcare savings could amount to approximately 90 million USD (12 billion ₦) in the first ten years, and around 520 million USD (185 billion ₦) over the population’s lifetime.

Dr Marklund further said it would cost the government and food industry an estimated 17 million USD (6.2 billion ₦) to implement the policy over the first ten years and 26 million USD (9.4 billion ₦) over the population’s lifetime. For every government dollar invested this would correspond to 66 USD in healthcare cost savings.

He said the implementation costs represent a small fraction of the substantial savings that a trans fat limit can offer healthcare systems, mirroring findings from a separate study we led in Kenya last year.

Also, the Head of the Cardiovascular Research Unit at the University of Abuja and a senior author of the research, Prof Dike Ojji called on governments must act swiftly to address the rising burden of cardiovascular disease that endanger the health of populations, care services, and economies across Africa.

He further said they hope the mounting evidence supporting the elimination of trans fats will encourage other African nations to emulate Nigeria’s best practice policy.