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Better diet would extend thousands of lives

Nearly 70,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year by improving the country's diet, says a new Government report.

Research by the Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office says this equals 10 per cent of the UK's current annual mortality rate and that the average adult eats too much salt, saturated fat and added sugar.

Huge potential benefits

The interim report, called 'Food: An Analysis Of The Issues' says: "The potential benefits of changes to diets are huge, as are the issues to be tackled in effecting and sustaining long-term change."

£7 billion cost of obesity

In 2002 the cost of people being obese and overweight in England was estimated at nearly £7 billion including direct treatment costs, state benefits and loss of earnings.

Obesity rates have trebled in the past 20 years and it is expected that 60 per cent of Britons will be obese by 2050.

How to live longer

The report says boosting fruit and vegetable consumption to the recommended five pieces per day could cut 42,000 premature deaths each year.

"Obesity and obesity related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes are literally taking years off people's lives," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

"Type 2 diabetes can reduce life expectancy by up to 10 years. Diabetes deaths already number over 30,000 in the UK and this figure is set to increase by 25 per cent by 2015.

"We know that adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity could prevent 80 per cent of Type 2 diabetes. A radical overhaul of the country's diet needs to happen if we want to stem the tide of obesity."

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