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Fat ban could save 40000 lives


Small changes to people’s diets that make them more healthy could prevent tens of thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke, experts have claimed.

NICE said measures such as reducing salt and saturated fats could cut the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease - a “largely avoidable” condition. According to NICE, reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat in food could save some 40,000 lives each year.

NICE experts have now set out a document detailing the changes people can make. They want the food industry to reduce levels of salt and saturated fats in products in order to cut the “huge numbers of unnecessary deaths”.

They also want to see trans fats, which have been classified as toxic by the World Health Organisation and shown to increase the risk of heart disease, banned from food production altogether.

Professor Mike Kelly, public health director at NICE, said:

“This isn’t about telling individuals to choose salad instead of chips - it’s about making sure that the chips we all enjoy occasionally are as healthy as possible. That means making further reductions in the salt, trans fats and saturated fats in the food we eat every day.”

According to NICE, such changes could cut the “huge numbers of unnecessary deaths” from heart disease and stroke and save millions of pounds each year.

Nearly six million people in the UK are currently living with the disabling effects of cardiovascular disease, putting “substantial” strain on the NHS.

Some 40,000 people are killed by the condition each year.



Readers' comments (18)

  • "it’s about making sure that the chips we all enjoy occasionally are as healthy as possible".

    Try taking all the chemicals such as pesticides, chemical fertilisers, germinators, and herbicides out of them as well then. In years to come these will be found to be the real culprits of much of our ill health.

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  • Martin Gray

    Whar's new here? Surely we have had this information for years now and it is nothing new. Are the academics getting stuck to find new information rather than repeating research that has already been done and proven?

    I'm really starting to feel like I live in a Big Brother society. Don't smoke, don't drink, don't eat too much fat or carbohydrate. We are all aware that people are living longer, despite the unhealthier lifestyles we now have; exercise seems to be blasphemy to most people, but that's what's lacking, especially in the younger generations.

    Personally I have a choice if I want to smoke, drink and/or eat unhealthily, we all do. To be quite frank I don't want to end up in a care home in my 70s or 80s; the present care system can't cope now, so how will it be when there are even more of us needing it? I'm choosing to enjoy my life and if it shortened because of my actions hen that is both my responsibility and my choice. And, before anyone satrts going on about cost of care for smoking or obesity related diseases to the NHS, it costs even more to provide elderly care as it is over a much longer period and they still suffer from chronic disease so you have to add in that costing too.

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  • Martin Yes you do have choice to smoke , drink, eat what you like BUT you have NO choice over your ingestion of this cocktail residue of chemicals unless you grow your own or eat organic produce. There is growing evidence that in combination these very chemicals have detrimental effects on the body, DNA and featus. After all Pesticides are nerve agents. Look at the effects sheep dip had on farmers for years. I have nursed farmers suffering from Parkinsonian / stroke type symptoms all due to sheep dip.

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  • Martin I absolutely agree. It is the absence of responsibility for actions that is also missing. Many people CHOOSE to smoke, drink, get obese, etc etc knowing full well that the NHS and the welfare state will be there to pick up the pieces. Why should they look after themselves when others will?

    I - like yourself - want to be fit and healthy until my dying days, and I certainly do not want to be stuck in the care or health system being kept alive without any quality of life; and I have taken steps to ensure this as best as I possibly can do. I have never smoked, never taken drugs, I drink rarely and I eat very healthily (with regular but not too regular treats such as chocolate and takeaways), and I excercise a lot. I have taken responsibility for my choices and my life.

    Therefore I feel absolutely justified in saying that it is about time we DO start pointing the finger a bit at those who don't, it is about time we start thinking about withdrawing treatment or charging extra for it for those who CHOOSE not take responsibility for their actions. Harsh, maybe, needed, yes.

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  • Hi Martin. Had you considered the possibility that a stroke caused by trans fats might actually be the reason you need care in old age? My grandad lived in his own home until 99 years old because he was fortunate to avoid all the catastrophic health complaints that often incapacitate the elderly. I'm happy for things prepared for me by other people to be as healthy as possible! Mx

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  • Hi Martin. Had you considered the possibility that a stroke caused by trans fats might actually be the reason you need care in old age? My grandad lived in his own home until 99 years old because he was fortunate to avoid all the catastrophic health complaints that often incapacitate the elderly. I'm happy for things prepared for me by other people to be as healthy as possible! Mx

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  • Anonymous | 26-Jun-2010 8:57 am, trans fats are certainly a cause of obesity, heart disease, etc. But they are not the only cause. First off, they are mostly found in crappy unhealthy foods anyway such as takeaways and processed packaged meals.

    Noone is saying don't have the odd takeaway, but certainly don't make them the basis of your diet, eat fresh healthy food, excercise frequently, don't smoke or take drugs and drink alcohol in small moderation, and you will be fit and healthy. It is hardly rocket science.

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  • Martin Gray

    I understood there is a move to ban trans fats altogether, or am I entirely wrong about that? But it's not just about what we eat, it's also about portion size. Excess carbohydrates are 'stored' as fat by the body, so it's not just eating fatty foods. In my experience the people that suffer MIs earlier are thin rather than obese; that would be a good research project for someone don't you think?

    I accept the fact that we have no control over the use of pesticides and chemicals, any more than we do on air and water pollution unless we all have 'zero emission' cars and drink 'safe' water. But that's how e have to live now I think. If governments and businesses stop the use of chemicals, and their manufacture, then I don't believe we would grow enough food for the human race to continue. It's a Catch 22 situation now.

    Mike it can be argued that, as smokers and drinkers contribute more in taxes, they are already paying towards any future treatment; however it is the funding of the NHS, controlled by the government, that's the problem in my opinion. So why should people be charged as you describe?

    Smoking was virtually encouraged, especially among the armed forces, at one time. Alcohol, for the most part, has been succeeded by illicit drug use, on which there is no tax collected. Are patients going to be denied treatment if they turn up with conditions caused by that drug use? Both alcohol and nicotine are very addictive drugs, as we all know, hence why the NHS and the government are pushing the stop smoking campaign; what about a 'stop drinking' campaign of the same proportion and financial imput?

    Some may also argue that junk food is an addiction, although I find that difficult to accept. I can't do any meaningful exercise because of disability, which is why I'm having to retire, and now find myself smoking more and more, eating poorly and generally feeling 'down'. Fortunately I have managerd to keep my alcohol consumption down to well under the recommended weekly intake but have to admit that that was not always the case. Alcohol and drugs are forms of escapism; smoking is (supposedly) a remedy for stress. Eating is used for comfort by many people.

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  • Martin, I understood transfats are to be banned altogether too, unless we are both wrong?

    But I am sorry I cannot in any way accept the argument that 'smokers and drinkers contribute more in taxes, they are already paying towards any future treatment'.

    No, they are not. I accept that some of these taxes are put back into the NHS, fair enough; however the sheer ammount of money that is spent every year on conditions caused by or exacerbated by smoking and drinking far exceeds this by amounts that really make the taxes paid insignificant. I mean what is the added yearly cost of treating COPD, Ashtma, Lung diseases, Cancer, Liver failure, alchoholic services ... well, you know the rest.

    And I say people should be charged if (after the are given or offered initial help for free to stop smoking/loseweight/stop taking drugs etc) they refuse to give up or carry on with their piss poor lifestyles, and then need expensive treatment as a result. It is their choice, their fault, why shouldn't they take responsibility? Maybe if this happened more regularly people might just take some responsibility for their health because they realise the safety net won't catch them every time.

    And I am not disputing the historical/social past of smoking etc, I know that it was encouraged, I know that 50 or 60 years ago people did not know the health risks ... so what? The knowledge is widespread now, noone has any excuse to start these habits. Those who did start in the past should be given initial help, that is a given, and if they take that and use it well, and STILL suffer from whatever diseases, they should still be treated. However the continued treatment of people who refuse to stop the lifestyles that caused the problem should be punitively charged.

    And I'm with you on the dubious authenticity of the addictive junk food claim, but as for the addictiveness of other drugs, fair enough they are. That does not mean people HAVE to carry on using them. Difficult is not impossible.

    And I'm sorry I also do not accept the escapism/stress relief/comfort argument either. I accept that it will be used as an excuse, but it is wrong. Excercise is also stress relief, reading a book or writing or painting is escapism, do you see what I am getting at here?

    These poor lifestyle choices are still a CHOICE at the end of the day.

    To give you one example, I am ex Army and served with a lot of good men who all went through pretty damn nasty experiences. I know a lot of my ex colleagues who did turn to drink as a form of pressure/stress relief when they got back to civvy street. But I also know a lot who did not go down that road and found other ways to deal with it, myself included.

    Everything is a CHOICE, Martin.

    I'm sorry to hear of your own circumstances, but try to stay positive. You can still have a long, positive and healthy retirement.

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  • Martin Gray

    People in todays society, especially those on low income/benefits do use alcohol and drugs as a means of escaping their problems; we both know it doesn't work but that doesn't stop them. Women especially turn to eating as a form of comfort in times of stress. It isn't easy giving up the only 'pleasure' they have; manu may not even be able to read or not have the attention span to do so, as well as having to take care of a brood of children.

    I think your solutions are rather Draconian, however I do agree that we all have choices and that we have to take responsibility for making the wrong choices knowingly. if a person continues to smoke when they have COPD/chronic lung disease, or refuses to stop drinking when they have liver disease then, perhaps, if treatment was stopped it would give them the incentive to change their lifestyle - but would it be too late by then? If so how long would they need to be treated if they were terminal? Or should they just suffer, so that they fully understand the errors of their ways before leaving this mortal coil?

    I am also ex Army, had you forgotten?, and have also witnessed the way many ex forces personnel deal with their change in life. Statistically the vast majority of homeless people are ex services, many have drug and alcohol problems and I would guess they all smoke (usually dog ends picked up off the street or out of ash trays. Admittedly the vast majority of people leaving the services do not have the same problem,s, and there can be many reasons why that is so.

    Perhaps a solution would be to give all those that don't change their habits, despite having been given help and treatment, a cyanide capsule?? At least it would save the cost of further treatment and drain on NHS resources. Todays society is one of Orwellian 'Big Brother'; do as you are told or suffer the consequences, you have NO choice.

    Rant over, now let's move on. :o)

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