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Adopt an English-style diet to stay healthy

3rd November 2011

Adopting an English-style diet could save 4,000 lives a year in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to an Oxford University study.

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Researchers from the university’s Department of Public Health found that people in England eat more fruit and vegetables and consume less salt and fat, which helps reduce heart disease and some cancers.

Statistics show that deaths from those conditions are higher in the three other countries, with diet highlighted as a key factor.

Lead researcher Dr Peter Scarborough of the Health Promotion Research Group said: “The chief dietary factor that is driving this mortality gap is fruit and vegetables.

“Consumption of fruit and vegetables in Scotland is around 12% lower than in England, and consumption in Northern Ireland is about 20% lower than in England. Consumption levels in Wales are similar.

“Other important factors are salt and saturated fat consumption, which are lower in England than in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.”

Researchers suggest a way to close this mortality gap is to bring taxes on food high in saturated fat, as has happened in Denmark recently and they also acknowledge that the English diet is far from perfect.

The British Heart Foundation said the exercise was useful in comparing influential differences in diet across the UK and had thrown up clear inequalities in the four nations.

However, senior dietician Victoria Taylor added: “Saying the rest of the UK should follow England’s lead to cut heart deaths isn’t a foolproof solution; a quarter of English adults are obese and only 30% eat their five-a-day.”

 

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