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Mortality And Morbidity Due To Unhealthy Diet In The United Kingdom

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Describe about the Mortality and Morbidity Due To Unhealthy Diet In The United Kingdom?



Diet as a major determinant of mortality and morbidity in the United Kingdom

Recent studies have shown that the local population of the United Kingdom is facing major health diseases like coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and cancer due to inadequate dietary intake. On the other hand, it was also found that a bulk of British nationals is facing food-borne diseases due to unhygienic conditions and pathogenic organisms like bacteria and fungi. Some of these foodborne diseases include Cholera, Diarrhea, Chemical poisoning, etc (Wang et al. 2011).

The global burden of disease project conducted by WHO have showed that CVD and cancer collaboratively result in 62 percent of years of life lost (YLLs) due to early deaths in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the national health policy in the UK has shown their concern about the diet-related health diseases in recent years. According to the mortality and morbidity results of WHO, it was observed that the percentage of CVD and cancer comes down to 10 when YLDs calculation was applied (years of life lost due to disability). On the other hand, the researchers have found out that 45% of British population faces YLDs due to neuropsychiatric disorders related to poor dietary habit. However, the combined result of YLLs and YLDs (DALYs: the sum of YLLs and YLDs) showed that 34% of British people faces the burden of ill health due to CVD and cancer. On the other hand, the percentage of neuropsychiatric disorder faces a declination of 26% as per the DALY’s calculation suggests (Whiteford et al. 2013).  

After summing up all the data, the researchers have found that 37% of DALY’s happens due to food and diet-related diseases. However, foodborne diseases like diarrhea, cholera, chemical poisoning contribute only 0.2% of the DALYs estimation. Other diet-related diseases like nutritional deficiency, malnutrition, and dental caries contribute only 0.8% of the DALYs calculation. However, cancer, CVD, and diabetes are found to be responsible for 36% of DALYs estimation. The comparative risk assessment project, which was conducted by WHO in the United Kingdom have provided a proper logic and insight about the cause of this diet-related diseases (Capacci et al. 2012). They have suggested that fewer vegetables and fruit consumption and excessive intake of salt, sugar and saturated fat results in complications like overweight, obesity, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol level among the general population. These complications are the major contributing factors for causing CVD, diabetes and cancer among the British population (Whiteford et al. 2013).

Various survey reports have shown that the fast foods stalls, oily food takeovers (mainly Chinese, Indian, Mughlai, etc.) and roadway shops are catering the British people with tasty and unhealthy foods. The ingredient that they are using comprises of saturated fats (oils, dalda, butter, cottage cheese) and an excessive amount of spices, sugar, and salt. This has resulted in a significant health risk to the general population of the United Kingdom. The survey reports of The Department of Health (the United Kingdom) have published a morbidity and mortality chart of deceased people who died due to unhealthy dietary lifestyles. The report showed that unhealthy food habits have resulted in 50% of CVD deaths and 33% of cancer-related deaths in the year 2015 in the United Kingdom (Yip et al. 2015). The report also showed that unhealthy dietary habits have resulted in low birth weight and increased childhood morbidity and mortality in the general population of the United Kingdom.

However, other reports have shown that the increasing amount of alcohol consumption among the British population have also increased the health related risks. The major complication that has been found to occur due to excessive alcohol consumption is Liver damage and Cirrhosis. Between the year 2010 and 2015, deaths from chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis have found to kill 13% of the population of the United Kingdom. This death toll of alcoholism has been found to get increased by 21% when compared to the data of 2004 – 2009 timeline (Ratib et al. 2015).  This is another major cause of mortality and morbidity that is found to get increased among the local population of the United Kingdom due to their dietary habit and addiction while it is found to get decreased among the other European peers. On the other hand, Cancer Research UK has published their statement recently where they explicitly stated that unhealthy lifestyles cause cancer in one third of the patients. According to them, the unhealthy lifestyle is often associated with alcoholism and unhealthy food intake. Adding to this, CVD has killed almost 74,000 British individuals in last three decades in the United Kingdom, which is about 200 deaths per year. These data and analysis clearly prove that diet is a major determinant of mortality and morbidity in the United Kingdom (Gonzalez and Riboli 2010).


Role of the Environmental health Practitioner in minimising the impact of diet as a health stressor

The environmental health practitioners know the processes of evaluating a variety of environmental issues (like food, water, air, waste, etc.). Moreover, they are very much efficient in translating the science into practice. The environmental health practitioners have an immense role in minimizing the impact of diet as a health stressor by applying some basic science into practice like.

They need to insist the Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom in lowering the cholesterol content of the daily food. It has been found that 10% reduction in the cholesterol level would prevent 25,000 deaths related to cardiovascular disease (approximately) every year in the United Kingdom (Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration 2011).

They can educate the people of the United Kingdom about the consequences of unhealthy dietary intake by providing them educational seminars and lectures.

They need to convince the common people of the United Kingdom in reducing their saturated fat intakes by providing them with knowledge about the concerning diseases like CVD, CHD, and obesity (Wu et al. 2013).

They need to convince the people of the United Kingdom in decreasing the intake of salt (Sodium) as it can lead to hypertension, persistent high blood pressure and can cause stroke or heart attack.

They need to convince the healthcare practitioners to use 0.8 mg of folic acid per day for the patients suffering from coronary heart disease (CHD). The use of folic acid has found to reduce serum homocysteine by 3mmol. Thus, implementation of folic acid would result in reducing the chances of stroke and heart attack by a margin of 24 percent in those patients who are suffering from coronary heart diseases (Yang et al. 2012).

They need to convince the people to maintain a healthy weight of BMI (Body Mass Index) under 25kg/m as it would reduce the chances of endometrial cancer by 40% and colon and breast cancer by 10% respectively (Cao and Ma 2011).

They need to convince the people of the United Kingdom to increase the intake of dietary fibers, as it would reduce the chances of pancreatic and colorectal cancer by a considerable margin.

Moreover, they need to insist people on consuming more vegetables and fruits from their childhood day, as it has a long-term protective effect on cancer risk in adults.

However, to implement all these practices environmental health professional would face immense challenges. Firstly, to conduct seminars with the local population and visit every healthcare personnel personally would require a massive budget. To accumulate the money they need to convince NGO's or the governmental body in order to get help from them with requisite cash and commodities. On the other hand, the environmental health practitioners need to abide by every legal and ethical aspects of the United Kingdom's judiciary system before conducting such programs. Hence, they require legal permission from the government of the United Kingdom which would consume more time and labour. Hence, to implement the program the EHP requires a minimum of 2 – 3 years of time, and this is the only challenges that the environmental health professional may face to effectively conduct his/her intervention process.



Cao, Y. and Ma, J., 2011. Body mass index, prostate cancer–specific mortality, and biochemical recurrence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer prevention research, 4(4), pp.486-501.

Capacci, S., Mazzocchi, M., Shankar, B., Macias, J.B., Verbeke, W., Pérez-Cueto, F.J., KozioÅ‚-Kozakowska, A., Piórecka, B., Niedzwiedzka, B., D'Addesa, D. and Saba, A., 2012. Policies to promote healthy eating in Europe: a structured review of policies and their effectiveness. Nutrition reviews, 70(3), pp.188-200.

Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, 2011. Separate and combined associations of body-mass index and abdominal adiposity with cardiovascular disease: collaborative analysis of 58 prospective studies. The Lancet, 377(9771), pp.1085-1095.

Gonzalez, C.A. and Riboli, E., 2010. Diet and cancer prevention: Contributions from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. European Journal of Cancer, 46(14), pp.2555-2562.

Ratib, S., Fleming, K.M., Crooks, C.J., Walker, A.J. and West, J., 2015. Causes of death in people with liver cirrhosis in England compared with the general population: a population-based cohort study. The American journal of gastroenterology, 110(8), pp.1149-1158.

Wang, Y.C., McPherson, K., Marsh, T., Gortmaker, S.L. and Brown, M., 2011. Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. The Lancet, 378(9793), pp.815-825.

Whiteford, H.A., Degenhardt, L., Rehm, J., Baxter, A.J., Ferrari, A.J., Erskine, H.E., Charlson, F.J., Norman, R.E., Flaxman, A.D., Johns, N. and Burstein, R., 2013. Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet, 382(9904), pp.1575-1586.

Wu, J., Zhu, S., Yao, G.L., Mohammed, M.A. and Marshall, T., 2013. Patient factors influencing the prescribing of lipid lowering drugs for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in UK general practice: a national retrospective cohort study. PLoS One, 8(7), p.e67611.

Yang, H.T., Lee, M., Hong, K.S., Ovbiagele, B. and Saver, J.L., 2012. Efficacy of folic acid supplementation in cardiovascular disease prevention: an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. European journal of internal medicine, 23(8), pp.745-754.

Yip, K., McConnell, H., Alonzi, R. and Maher, J., 2015. Using routinely collected data to stratify prostate cancer patients into phases of care in the United Kingdom: implications for resource allocation and the cancer survivorship programme. British journal of cancer, 112(9), pp.1594-1602.

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