Date Published: 10 February 2009

Saturated fat campaign launched to tackle UK's biggest killer

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

The Agency has launched a public health campaign to raise awareness of the health risks of eating too much saturated fat. People in the UK eat on average 20% more saturated fat than the recommended maximum.

The campaign will promote a range of simple, positive and practical steps that people can take to help improve their health and reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

Over time, a diet high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases such as coronary heart disease, heart attacks, angina and stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the most common cause of death in the UK and in 2006 was responsible for about one in three premature deaths.

The Agency’s campaign activity includes a graphic 40-second TV ad that shows saturated fat can come from a variety of everyday foods and illustrates why too much saturated fat could be bad for your heart.

The ad opens with someone reaching into a fridge in an average home. A jug of saturated fat is poured down the sink, blocking a kitchen pipe to vividly bring to life the message that too much saturated fat could lead to a build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries.

This health message is supported by a series of print ads that show how consumers can reduce their saturated fat intake by making a few simple changes to the way they shop, cook and eat. The print ads, and tips on making positive changes, are available at links below.

The case for the campaign is highlighted by UK-wide FSA research published today, which found that nearly half of respondents (48%) thought that there was no need to worry about how much saturated fat they ate if, for example, they took regular exercise, were not overweight or ate lots of fruit and vegetables.

Food Standards Agency Chief Executive Tim Smith said:

"People say they do know that saturated fat is bad for them but they don’t necessarily link it to heart disease and what they are eating. It's important they make that connection, because heart disease is the UK’s number one killer – one in three of us will die as a result.

'There are simple ways we can cut down the amount of saturated fat we all eat and protect our health. We need to eat leaner meat and a bit less cheese, switch to lower-fat milks and eat healthier snacks, cutting down on cakes and biscuits.

'Supermarkets and manufacturers have done some good work, so that now when we’re shopping there is an increasing range of lower-saturated-fat foods available and better labelling, and we’d like to see more of this. It is important that we work together to increase the variety of healthier foods available and continue to address this important public health issue together."

In addition to having the support of major supermarkets, manufacturers and some caterers, the FSA is being backed in the campaign by the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, Heart UK, National Federation of Women’s Institutes and NetMums.

HEART UK Director Michael Livingston said:

"The cholesterol charity HEART UK wholeheartedly supports the FSA's campaign to help people understand how too much saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

'By focusing on practical swaps and changes that can easily be made, the campaign shows how simple it is to reduce the amount of saturated fat we eat. It is important that we all become more aware of the small steps we can take, which can make a real difference to our own and, importantly, our families' risk of heart disease."

 

Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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