Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cutting salt from your diet 'would prevent one fifth of heart disease deaths'

This utter crap was not based on any research with people at all. It was just a modelling study (called: "Cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce dietary salt intake") -- and what you get out of a model depends on the assumptions you feed into it. Garbage in, garbage out

Heart disease could be cut by almost a fifth if food companies were banned from adding too much salt to their products, research has found. Banning manufacturers from adding salt to ready meals, cereals, crisps and sandwiches would save tens of thousands of lives a year by lowering the number of heart attacks and strokes.

A major study has found such laws would be 20 times more effective in improving health than offering dietary advice.

Heart attacks and strokes are by far the biggest killers in Britain, claiming 230,000 lives every year. But experts say up to a fifth of these deaths could be prevented by eating less salt, which increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Guidelines recommend that people eat no more than 6 grams of salt a day, although average daily consumption in the UK is 9g.

Many foods, including ready meals, pizzas and sandwiches, contain well over half the recommended daily amount in a single portion. Researchers in Australia found that forcing companies to limit the amount of salt in their products would cut deaths from heart disease by 18 per cent. Such restrictions might include banning ready meals from having more than 3g of salt and crisps and sandwiches more than 0.6g.

The study, published in the journal Heart, concluded that it was not enough to advise people on healthy eating and hope they choose to cut down on salt. Lead researcher Linda Cobiac, from the University of Queensland, said: `Food manufacturers have a responsibility to make money for their shareholders, but they also have a responsibility to society. `If corporate responsibility fails, maybe there is an ethical justification for government to step in and legislate.'

The Coalition does not have any plans to force manufacturers to limit either salt or fat content and insists firms are working hard to make their products healthier.

Earlier this year, the health watchdog NICE demanded a change in the law and called for companies to be paid to reduce salt or fat.

Katharine Jenner, of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health pressure group, said: `CASH and the Food Standards Agency have pioneered an approach whereby all manufacturers across all food sectors gradually reduce the amount of salt they put in their food, so consumers do not have to consciously choose low-salt products.'

Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, said: `Voluntary regulations placed on food companies have already achieved good results. `We're making progress without the need for compulsory limits.'


Alcohol is more harmful than crack or heroin

Libertarians have been saying this for ages but the "modelling" below is a bit of a joke. One just has to look at the frequency of alcohol-involved traffic accidents

Alcohol causes more harm than heroin or crack cocaine, according to a new study by Professor David Nutt, the government's former chief drug adviser. In an article published in the Lancet, the drug expert presents a new way of measuring drug damage that assesses both harm to the individual and harm to the rest of society.

His analysis shows that when both factors are combined, alcohol is the most damaging drug, followed by heroin and crack.

The paper is written by Professor Nutt, of Imperial College London, and the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, Dr Leslie King, UK Expert Adviser to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, and Dr Lawrence Phillips, London School of Economics and Political Science.

The new assessment used nine categories of harm to the self and seven to society as a whole. The "harm to self" categories cover mortality, poor health, impaired mental functioning, loss of friendships and injury. The "harm to others" categories include crime, environmental damage, family conflict and decline in community cohesion.

Heroin, crack, and crystal meth were the most harmful drugs to the individual, whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack were the most harmful to others. The modelling showed that as well as being the most harmful drug overall, alcohol is almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco.

It also showed that alcohol is more than five-times more harmful than mephedrone, which was recently a so-called legal high in the UK before it was made a class B controlled drug in April 2010.

Ecstasy, which has had much harm-related media attention over the past two decades, is only one eighth as harmful as alcohol in this new analysis.

They conclude: “Our findings lend support to previous work in the UK and the Netherlands, confirming that the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm. They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy.”

Prof Nutt was chairman of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs until he was dismissed last year after saying ecstasy was less harmful than alcohol.


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