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23-06-2010 | Cardiology | Article

New NICE guidelines recommend further reductions in food salt, fat content

Abstract

NICE guidance [pdf]

MedWire News: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK has launched new guidelines calling for the elimination of all industrially produced trans fatty acids (IPTFAs) and a further reduction of the salt and saturated fat levels in UK food products.

The guidelines, which outline strategies for preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD), recommend a total ban on all IPTFAs, a substance that contributes to 4500 to 7000 avoidable CVD-related deaths annually.

NICE also recommends a reduction in salt intake from the current 9 g/day to 6 g/day. It reports that this will reduce CVD deaths by up to 20,000 per year.

NICE explains that halving the average UK adult's saturated fat intake from the current 14% of total energy intake to 7%, "might prevent approximately 30,000 CVD deaths annually."

The guidance advocates a need for legislations ensuring low-salt and low-fat foods are sold at cheaper prices than high-fat and high-salt alternatives, and calls for stricter restrictions on TV advertising for high-fat, salt, and sugar foods and drinks.

These recommendations were welcomed by the European Society of Cardiology's (ESC) spokesman Lars Ryden (Karolinska Institute, Sweden) who comments: "This is an extremely strong document that clearly underlines how much can be gained from society by introducing legislative changes protecting the content of diets."

In similar support of the guidelines, Ian Gilmore from the Royal College of Physicians explains: "This year alone two hundred thousand people in the UK are going to die prematurely from cardiovascular complications… The NICE guidance demonstrates conclusively why we need to change radically our approach to this vast and silent killer."

Despite the European Parliament's recent rejection of the traffic light food labeling system, NICE remains firm in its belief in the system. The new guidelines emphasize the need for consistent and clear food and drink labeling in a format such as the traffic light color-coding, and explains its necessity in improving public uptake of the new recommendations.

Betty McBride, from the British Heart Foundation, says: "Creating an environment that makes healthy choices easy is vital. Government, the health service, industry, and individuals must all play their part and as such we welcome the multi-faceted guidance from NICE today."

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lauretta Ihonor

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