5-6 December 2018: Meeting Collaborating Centres of WHO European Region on NCDs 

In December 2018, WHO/Europe convened a two-day meeting of representatives from various Collaborating Centres and other academic institutions that focus on NCD risk factors and surveillance in Moskou. RIVM’s Collaborating Centre for Nutrition was present. 

The aim of the meeting was to launch a network of CCs and to tap into the potential for a new collaboration between them, with a commitment from WHO/Europe to continue knowledge exchange and to facilitate joint working in the future. 

The results of the two-day discussion: an overview of WHO/Europe’s priorities in NCD risk factors and surveillance, proposed research projects identified by CC discussion groups, and next steps can be found in this report

11-12 October 2018:  Expert Consultation on Trans-Fatty Acid Assessment

WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland. Eliminating trans-fat (TFA) is a key to protecting health and saving lives: globally more than 500,000 deaths were attributed to the increased intake of TFA. Elimination of industrially-produced TFA (IP-TFA) from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO in 2019 – 2023. Industrially-produced TFA are contained in partially hardened vegetable fats and are often present in margarine, snack foods, baked foods, and fried foods. Healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect the taste or cost of food.

In May 2018, WHO released the REPLACE action package, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced TFA from the global food supply. Assessment and monitoring of TFA content in the food supply and of changes in TFA consumption in the population are one of the steps in the REPLACE action package. Susanne Westenbrink (RIVM) was invited to the Expert Consultation on Trans Fatty Acid Assessment, organized by WHO in October 2018. The expert consultation aimed to develop:

1. Laboratory protocols for measuring TFA exposure in humans and TFA content in food

2. Surveillance tools for countries to use in monitoring TFA intake in the population and TFA content in the food supply. 

From the literature and discussions, it is clear that TFA levels in food and TFA intake in populations varies worldwide, with low levels in many Western countries and still very high levels in many other countries. It was advocated first to focus on reducing IP-TFA levels in high-fat foods produced by the food industry, although low-fat foods eaten in large quantities should also be taken into account. Ruminant dairy and meat products contain some naturally present TFA, however, these are not subject to the goal of reducing TFA intake. Analytical methods and sampling protocols were discussed in detail and will be included in the amended WHO guidelines for surveillance approaches for measuring TFA exposure in humans and TFA content in food. 

12 -13 September 2018: 10th meeting WHO Action Network on Salt reduction in ESAN

Rome, Italy. The WHO aims to reduce salt intake by 30% between 2010 and 2025, and has established a network to facilitate this. The WHO Action Network on Salt Reduction in the Population in the European Region (ESAN) was established in 2007 and held its 10th meeting in Rome in September 2018.  The aim of this meeting was to exchange experiences in salt reduction strategies across the WHO European Region and to share scientific know-how on several aspects of salt reduction. RIVM's WHO Collaborating Centre for Nutrition was invited to participate by sharing the Dutch experience in salt reduction and to organise a workshop on the approaches to monitor the composition of the food supply. Ivon Milder and Marieke Hendriksen of RIVM participated in this meeting.