Happy heart laws could save NHS £230m

LEGISLATION that restricts unhealthy food, such as reducing salt content and eliminating trans fats, would prevent thousands of cases of heart disease, researchers say.

Heart disease and stroke cause more than 150,000 deaths every year in the UK and yet more than 80 per cent of premature heart disease is avoidable, the researchers wrote in the British Medical Journal.

They said established research has indicated that individuals who consume too much salt and eat food which is high in industrial trans fats have a higher risk of developing heart disease.

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A team, led by Dr Pelham Barton from the University of Birmingham's School of Health and Population Sciences, said a programme introducing legislation or other measures to reduce dietary salt intake by three grammes a day or industrial trans fatty acid intake by approximately 0.7 per cent would save the NHS about 230m a year.

They said their estimates mirrored results from work in the United States and Australia. They added that "population-wide prevention interventions seem to be both powerful and cost saving".