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by Robert MacKay, Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Categories: Obesity

The Health Watchdog has claimed that junk food is costing 4000 lives each year. They have suggested that the government should pay food companies to manufacture healthy foods, estimating that this would save tens of thousands of lives.

NICE – or the National Instititute of Clinical Excellence – has called for sweeping changes in the way that food is produced and how it is sold to consumers. They have demanded that manufacturers reduce the amount of salt and sugar in the food.

They have also recommended that companies and public bodies, such as hospitals and schools, push workers to ditch their cars by abandoning subsidised car parking.

In the document, officials from NICE set out a list of measures they believe should be implemented, including eliminating trans fats from food in order to bring down average salt intake and saturated fat consumption.

They call for there to be guarantees to ensure that low-fat, low-salt foods are cheaper than the unhealthy equivalent and recommend that the government consider legislation and fiscal levers to change pricing on food. Studies have shown that poorer people are more likely to eat badly, as unhealthy food tends to be the cheaper option.

However the Food and Drink Federation has criticised NICE, who are better known for making decisions about which drugs should be used in the NHS, for overstepping the mark. They said that the guidance  was out of touch with the current situation and that the food industry was voluntarily trying to make popular brands healthier.

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