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Diet revamp could save 70,000 lives

A government report suggests that almost 70,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year if diets in the UK improve.

Research published by the Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office found that the average adult currently eats too much salt, saturated fat and added sugar, while people are still reluctant to eat fruit, vegetables, wholegrains or oily fish.

The report claims that bringing the nation's diet in line with nutritional guidelines could cut the number of deaths linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

It suggests that it fruit and vegetable consumption can be increased to the recommended level of five pieces per day, 42,200 premature deaths will be saved each year.

And if daily salt intake is reduced from the average 9g to the recommended maximum of 6g the annual death toll could be further cut by 20,200.

And another 7,000 deaths could be avoided if excess saturated fat and sugar intakes were cut out.

The interim report, called "Food: An Analysis Of The Issues", said: "There can be few areas of public policy where the positive benefits to lives, health and wellbeing are potentially as dramatic as they could be in diet and nutrition.

"The potential benefits of changes to diets are huge, as are the issues to be tackled in effecting and sustaining long-term change."

Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office

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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Yes, it would be good if children in school were given the opportunity to cook simple nutritious and economical meals.  This could be more effective in tackling obesity than mass measuring of children in schools.  See my article in Nursing Standard 19 Jan 2008, 'Adding up to failure' pages 26-27" - Catherine Gleeson, Practice Nurse, West Yorks

"Of course, but all the while the food manufacturing industry has the ear of the government we will be 'nibbling around the edges' so to speak. There is too much vested interest by the rich and powerful both in business and in government for any real headway to be made. The political will is severely lacking. People are bombarded with food advertising daily, most of which is not advertised as being included as part of a healthy diet so therefore appears to have no consequences to it's over indulgence. Children are not taught to cook healthy meals at school or in the home for the most part. Parents have to work all hours to make ends meet so convenience food is the staple of children's diets, particularly the low paid as the cheaper, poor quality foods will be the obvious option. There is another aspect that has not been investigated, the individual's emotional/psychological relationship to food. I see a lot of people who have depression, psychological and addiction problems associated with food. They are usually the 'heartsink' patients for the doctor - nothing works. A partnership between mental health teams and dieticians would be a big help to some very obese people out there. The long and short of it is we are telling people one thing while plying them with disgusting junk foods. Personal responsibility has to go hand in hand with government regulation of the food manufacturers" - Name and address supplied

"Yes, if the body's melatonin was allowed to work. The high microwave emissions from phone masts stop melatonin from cleansing the body of impurities, which in the long term cause serious illnesses and cancers. Long-term, low-level microwave radiation is a killer and diet, pills and other forms of medical treatment cannot fight this scourge. Please go to Google, look up microwaves and melatonin, have the emissions read in your area, then you will see that even the best diet stands no chance" - Margaret, London