Sticking to dietary recommendations would save 33,000 lives a year in the UK

Dec 16, 2010

If everyone in the UK ate their "five a day," and cut their dietary salt and unhealthy fat intake to recommended levels, 33,000 deaths could be prevented or delayed every year, reveals research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day accounts for almost half of these saved lives, the study shows. Recommended salt and fat intakes would need to be drastically reduced to achieve similar health benefits, say the authors.

The researchers base their findings on national data for the years 2005 to 2007 for all four UK countries.

Their data sources included deaths from , stroke and cancers; figures on food and nutrient consumption; and in-depth high quality analyses of published evidence on the contribution of diet to serious illness and .

They fed all this information into a conceptual framework (DIETRON model) in a bid to calculate the number of lives that could be saved if UK on the consumption of fats, salt, fibre and fruits and vegetables were all met.

These stipulate the daily consumption of 440 g of fruits and vegetables; 18 g of fibre; a third of total energy to be provided by fats, with saturated fat comprising 10% of this; and a maximum 6 g of salt.

In 2007, none of the UK countries met any of these recommendations, with Scotland and Northern Ireland the furthest away from achieving them.

Their calculations showed that the recommendation for fruit and vegetables - "five a day" - made the largest contribution, staving off more than 7,000 deaths a year from coronary and almost 5,000 from cancer, adding up to more than 15,000 preventable deaths a year.

But nearly 4,000 annual deaths could be prevented by sticking to the recommendations on dietary fibre, while those on fats and salt would save almost 7,000 and 7,500 respectively.

When taken together, the figures add up to 33,000 lives a year, say the authors. Men and those living in Northern Ireland have the most to gain, the figures indicate.

While boosting fruit and vegetable consumption would have the most positive effect on health outcomes, there is scope for more to be achieved by lowering recommended levels of salt and fat consumption, say the authors.

"In order to achieve a reduction in mortalities similar to those attained by achieving the fruit and vegetables recommendation, the recommendation should be set at 3.5 g per day," they say.

"To achieve a similar reduction in cardiovascular mortalities, the saturated fat recommendation should be set at 3% of total energy," they add.

Explore further: Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Banning trans fats would save lives, say doctors

Apr 15, 2010

Banning trans fats from all foods in the UK would prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths every year, and would be a simple way to protect the public and save lives, say two senior doctors in the British Medical Journal ...

Green leafy vegetables reduce diabetes risk

Aug 19, 2010

Eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, finds research published today in the British Medical Journal.

Recommended for you

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

6 hours ago

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Internists favor public policy to reduce gun violence

12 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Most internists believe that firearm-related violence is a public health issue and favor policy initiatives aimed at reducing it, according to research published online April 10 in the Annals of ...

iPLEDGE isotretinoin counseling may need updating

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The iPLEDGE program needs to provide women with information about more contraceptive choices, including reversible contraceptives, according to research published in the April issue of JAMA De ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...