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02-08-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Introducing new UK food legislation could prevent CVD and save NHS millions


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MedWire News: Introducing legislation to reduce dietary salt intake and eliminate trans fats from the food industry could prevent thousands of heart disease cases and make substantial savings for the NHS, UK researchers say.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for more than 150,000 deaths annually in the UK, but more than 80% of premature CVD is avoidable, report Pelham Barton (University of Birmingham) and colleagues in the BMJ.

The team therefore built a model to estimate how specific interventions would prevent or delay deaths, improve quality of life, and save NHS (UK National Health Service) resources.

The model showed that introducing legislation to reduce salt intake by 3 grams per day would reduce mean population systolic blood pressure by approximately 2.5 mmHg, prevent 4450 CVD deaths annually, and save the NHS £40 million (US$65.69 million) each year.

Introducing legislation to reduce the total UK dietary intake of industrial trans fats by 0.5% would reduce the relative risk for CVD death by 6%, the authors estimate, prevent 2700 deaths per year, gain 570,000 life years, and save £235 million (US$385.94 million) annually.

"Our results strongly suggest that any policy intervention achieving even a 1% population-wide reduction in risk for CVD can be expected to produce a net cost saving to the NHS, as well as decreasing losses in productivity, and improving health," write Barton et al.

They point out however, that their modeling projections are based on conservative assumptions, and that the true benefits are likely to be higher than those reported in the study.

"Population-wide prevention interventions seem to be both powerful and cost-saving," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Piriya Mahendra

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