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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)

  • My solutions are a little draconian, yes; and I am not denying that these things happen.

    But I would like to add a final thought if I may, you said '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?'

    Yes in all likelihood it would be too late. But would it give countless others who it isn't too late for the incentive to quit or give future generations the incentive to never even start in the first place? Does the lack of responsibility contribute to the growth of poor lifestyle choices? Would the forced responsibility for ones choices by denying people a safety net contribute to a decline in poor lifestyle choices?

    I know that it is Draconian, I know many people think it would be unfair, but the fact is the NHS does not have the resources to carry on with the status quo. Something drastic is needed.

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  • Oh, and although there are some people I would quite happily give a cyanide pill too, (a lot of MP's for starters! lol) I have no problem with personal choice, contrary to appearances I actually have polar paradigms to orwellian state dictatorship and liberal socialism! What I think is that if a person chooses to kill themselves, poison their body, smoke, take illegal drugs, whatever, then fine. Do it. It is your choice. But you live with the consequences. Why should they get free treatment over and over and over, why should I pay taxes to fund your treatment? Why should the state provide a safety net?

    The NHS is a privelige, a gift. It is not a right, and it certainly is not there to be abused.

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  • I feel that that is also a key part of the issue - the NHS providing 'free' health care. The idea and indeed ideals of the NHS are well-founded but it would seem that they are becoming less and less sustainable.
    Although issues such as obesity and alcohol or drug misuse are important not least of all economically, the fact is that people are living longer through a wide range of interventions. The aging population is in itself an issue. What about those who are subject to a condition through old age? Should they be entitled to expensive treatment having already drawn a pension for years?
    Is it time to look at additional means of providing health care?
    Even as a student nurse, I have a duty to provide care in a non-judgemental fashion. People do have choices in life but sometimes it is between a rock and a hard place.

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  • Martin Gray

    An ever increasing elderly population does put a greater starin on the NHS resources available, and this will get worse as we develop either cures or means of preventing a more rapid deterioration in chronic conditions. And has there nor been accusations of the elderly not being given treatment, such as organ transplants, as they have been deemed to benefit less in terms of both quality and length of life? it is the right of every person that contributes to have access to the services provided. Howeverf it should not be allowed to be abused by those not entitled to it; the illegal immigrants, tourists, relatives from abroad whose family are British citizens that come here to use our NHS.

    We're off the main subject, I know, but that's what happens in discussion is it not?

    Mike, it becomes hard to decline treatment to any patient when you can see they are suffering. I do agree that perhaps if they had to actually pay for their medication, such as inhalers, etc., then it may make more more likely to alter their lifestyle. Unfortunately that life style may be so engrained that any change would be extremely difficult if not impossible. And the amount of support needed would also prove costly.

    There is no easy answer to this dilemma. Millions could be spent on health education, indeed it probably already has, but the results have not been anywhere near good as predicted. Diabetes is on the increase in line with obesity; the work of Jamie Oliver et al falls on deaf ears.

    Lastly the NHS is not a gift, we are paying for it through taxes and NI contributions.

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  • I agree Kerry, the whole ideology of free care is an extremely important issue that does need looking at. I think that the increasingly aging population does put a massive strain on the NHS, not to mention the social services, care homes and many other ancilliary services. However, age in and of itself is not and cannot be a reason to deny care. One cannot help the deteriorating effects of age. Like Martin said, this is an extremely difficult issue, which is probably why it is so important to debate it.

    Martin I agree it is hard to ignore suffering. It is in our nature to want to help. But sometimes tough love has to be given. And isn't the ammount of support already given to help smokers/drinkers/drug abusers/etc already costly? Maybe this can be supplemented with the funds saved in not treating them?

    I agree entirely with your other points, the NHS must be protected from those who abuse it. Your examples are the prime ones, but I would extend that right down to the other end of the scale with people who abuse staff, people using ambulances as taxi services etc, and yes, people who abuse their own bodies repeatedly as we have been discussing.

    I also agree with your point on health education. I despair sometimes at the level at which all these messages are failing. I still think that putting the sense of responsibility for their own actions and their own health back into people would help so much in drilling these messages into the masses.

    And when I said gift, I meant that in a metaphorical sense, yes we are paying for it through taxes etc, but just look at the majority of the world that does not have a system like ours, or indeed any system at all, and tell me it is not a gift. I love the NHS, I believe it is an amazing thing, but I also believe it needs protecting or we will lose it.

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  • healthcare professionals need to set an example. My mother in law recently had a stay in hospital and asked the question why are so many nurses overweight or obese? She was shocked at the amount of nursung staff that were clinically obese. how can we promote healthy eating when clearly so many of us do not practice what we preach?

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  • Martin Gray

    Yes I've often wondered where the 'sexy nurses' as portrayed in a current TV ad work. In my experience many nurses do not look their best and for a variety of reasons; overwork, long hours, trying to care for a family, etc. How can they be expected to look smart, be slim, and be cheerful and helpful all the time when they probably don't get enough sleep, are under undue stress at work and at home, have little time to prepare proper nutritional meals and exercise??

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  • Why dont we just shoot all these "undesirables" in a mass execution and be rid of them? That way we could have a world full of slim non-drinkers/smokers, smiling from ear to ear at how smug they are! GOOD GRIEF! what happened to humanity?

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