The United Nations agency has in the past pushed to exterminate infectious diseases, but now it's aiming to erase a hazard linked to chronic illness.
Frieden told reporters that New York City's success in banning trans fats from restaurants a decade ago proved that they "can be eliminated without changing the taste, availability or cost of great food".
Trans fats, often in the form of partially hydrogenated food oils, played a leading role in the post-World War II popularization of packaged foods in the U.S. and elsewhere.
In the recent history of popular nutrition, trans fat has experienced perhaps the most meteoric rise and precipitous fall from grace of anything in our foods.
Nutrition expert Dr. Marion nestle of New York University complained that World Health Organization was not using plain language to tell people about trans fats.
Good substitutes for partially hydrogenated fats and saturated fats are liquid oils such as olive oil, canola oil and safflower. This is why a ban on trans fats can make a very big difference for worldwide health.
While the majority of products in Europe and the U.S.no longer contain trans fats, the rest of the world continues to use them and suffer the negative health outcomes. That may have been true of the old margarines made using hydrogenated oils, but it's less true now.
The International Food and Beverage Alliance - a Geneva group representing food companies including Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc., McDonald's Corp. and Unilever NV - said its members have removed industrially produced trans fat from 98.8% of their global product portfolios.
WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg, a three-term mayor of NY city and the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said "A comprehensive approach to tobacco control allowed us to make more progress globally over the last decade than nearly anyone thought possible - now, a similar approach to trans fat can help us make that kind of progress against cardiovascular disease, another of the world's leading causes of preventable death".
In the US, the first trans fatty food to hit the market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911. The same year the FDA required manufacturers to list trans fat content information on food labels. They used them in doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods.
But over time, health studies began to show correlations between trans fat and high cholesterol and heart failure risk.
Many manufacturers cut back, and studies showed trans fat levels in the blood of middle-aged US adults fell by almost 60 percent by the end of the decade. In the decades that followed, food companies began incorporating partially hydrogenated oil into their products because it increased the shelf life of baked goods and facilitated an easier way to make buyer-friendly food textures.