Heidi Downes, Antenatal Screening Counsellor Midwife at the Wolfson Institute, is campaigning for recognition of the role of young black women in the advancement of obstetric practice. In an opinion piece published on The Conversation, Heidi explains that enslaved black women were “gifted by their owners” to the so-called father of gynaecology, Marion James Sims, who used them in a series of experimental surgeries in America in the 1850s.
Improved risk prediction for NHS Lung Health Checks in England
19 October 2020
An updated risk model could improve the current test for selecting people from the Targeted Lung Health Checks programme in England who would benefit from lung cancer screening. The programme uses the Liverpool Lung Project risk assessment model, which has now been updated by researchers from the Wolfson Institute in collaboration with colleagues in Liverpool.
Making a Psychopath - New book by Wolfson author Mark Freestone
14 October 2020
Mark Freestone, Reader in Mental Health at the Wolfson Institute, today releases his new book, Making a Psychopath. Widely recognised as the psychologist who helped bring Killing Eve assassin Villanelle to life, Mark now shares his insights into seven of the most dangerous minds he has encountered over the last 15 years.
The World Action on Salt & Health (WASH) team, based at the Wolfson Institute, has received funding for the development of a salt reduction toolkit for the WHO South East Asia Region.
Wolfson research recognized in BMJ Digital Innovation Award
8 October 2020
A study of over 5300 adults across six provinces in China has shown an average salt intake of 11 grams per day, more than double the maximum level recommended by the World Health Organization. The study is the largest to date to measure urinary sodium and potassium excretion, using the most accurate method of 24-hour urine collection, in subjects representing the broad range of dietary habits and economic levels in China.
A study of women at increased risk of breast cancer who take the preventive drug Tamoxifen has found a consistent and large average reduction in breast density over the first year of treatment, and a continued reduction for up to four years thereafter. Tamoxifen is known to reduce mammographic density, and there is some evidence that women with the largest reductions benefit most from this preventive therapy. This study showed similar average declines in mammographic density across four different fully-automated methods, but also found that breast density change on an individual basis was not stable enough to be used as a basis for personalised clinical decisions to be made at one year.
Dr Alastair Noyce of the Wolfson Institute’s Preventive Neurology Unit will chair the opening session of the first Think Brain Health conference, to be held online on 24 and 25 November 2020.
People with severe mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and psychosis, are more likely to use general non-psychiatric health services than people without severe mental illness.
The impact of COVID-19 on access to Parkinson’s disease medication
21 September 2020
A global survey of health professionals has shown that during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with Parkinson’s disease in large parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin and South America experienced difficulty in accessing their medication, which is likely to have led to deterioration of symptom control.
A new product survey by the Action on Sugar group within Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute has revealed that ‘healthy’ fruit snacks aimed at children are loaded with sugars, with some containing the equivalent of nearly five teaspoons of sugar.
Improving Prediction of Parkinson’s Disease
16 September 2020
A study led by researchers from the Wolfson Institute shows that including genetic markers in addition to well known risk factors improves tests to predict Parkinson’s disease.
A study to assess an artificial intelligence solution for detecting prostate cancer has been selected from over 530 applicants as one of the first winners of the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award.
Childhood obesity is projected to contribute up to 14% of overall risk of Multiple Sclerosis in 2035, according to a paper published on 26 August 2020 in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The collaborative study, by researchers from Queen Mary’s Wolfson and Blizard Institutes, Barts, and the University of Oxford, used published literature from the UK, USA, Russia, and Australia, to estimate and project the proportion of Multiple Sclerosis incidence that could be attributed to two modifiable risk factors: smoking, and childhood and adolescent high body mass index.
For women at high risk of ovarian cancer, standard preventive practice is to offer removal of both the fallopian tubes and ovaries, but the surgery induces menopause in women who have not yet reached this stage of life. A study led by researchers from Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute has found that, among those who undergo this risk reducing surgery, premenopausal women have much higher regret rates than postmenopausal women. A proposed alternative two step surgical protocol, which delays the induced menopause caused by the removal of the ovaries, is highly acceptable to this premenopausal group of women.
Breast cancer screening is currently offered to UK women aged 50-70, but uncertainty exists over whether to start screening at a younger age. In a paper published in Lancet Oncology on 12 August 2020, researchers from Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute, with an international group of collaborators, present the 23-year follow-up results of the UK Breast Screening Age Trial. Their results show that, despite recognised problems inherent in screening younger women, annual mammography from age 40 would reduce breast cancer mortality, with no appreciable increase in overdiagnosis. There was a substantial and significant reduction of around 25% in breast cancer mortality in the first ten years, and although this reduction attenuated thereafter, the absolute benefit remained roughly constant at one death prevented per 1,000 women screened.
An international study led by Wolfson Institute researchers has shown that population based BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing is cost effective in high and upper-middle income countries. The paper, published 17/07/2020 in Cancers, concludes that testing in the general population could prevent tens of thousands more breast and ovarian cancer cases than current practice.
Ahead of imminent government plans to address obesity in the UK, the Wolfson Institute’s Action on Sugar and Action on Salt groups have led 47 other health charities and eminent researchers in a letter urging the Prime Minister to meet the Government’s previous commitments made under the Childhood Obesity Prevention plan. A “Scorecard” analysis compiled by Action on Sugar/Action on Salt shows that many of the previously agreed recommendations, including calorie reduction and taxation of unhealthy foods, have been side lined.
Obesity and COVID-19: the role of the food industry
10 June 2020
The Food industry must share the blame not only for the obesity crisis, but also for the severity of COVID-19, according to a new BMJ Editorial by researchers at QMUL’s Wolfson Institute.
In women with Multiple Sclerosis, relapse rates are known to fall during pregnancy, and rebound post-partum. A study led by the Wolfson Institute’s Dr Ruth Dobson now shows that while this remains true, the post-pregnancy relapse rate appears to be decreasing over time.
Ahead of the UK Government’s imminent review of factors affecting the impact of COVID-19 on infected patients, the Wolfson Institute’s Action on Sugar and Action on Salt group has delivered an evidence-based plan for the Prime Minister to address obesity.
A study offering personalised ovarian cancer risk prediction to women in the general population shows that 98% of participants felt less worried after finding out their ovarian cancer risk status.
A study of breast cancer outcomes in nine Swedish counties has found that differences among counties in the effect of screening on breast cancer outcomes were mainly due to survival variation in women not participating in screening.
An analysis of data from over half a million Swedish women reveals that mammography screening reduces the rates of advanced and fatal breast cancers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented changes in gynaecological cancer treatment delivery in the UK, with many aspects of the patient pathway affected and treatments prioritised and modified. The UK Covid and Gynaecological Cancer Study (UKCOGS) launched on 27 April is a multi-phased study recording and assessing changes and outcomes in patient care across the patient pathway, within the multi-disciplinary team context. 53 UK sites have now registered, and the British Gynaecological Cancer Society has awarded the study COVID19 research funding.
In the largest survey of its kind, The Wolfson Institute’s Action on Salt research group have exposed the reality that many ‘healthy’ sounding plant-based and vegan meals served at UK eating establishments are shockingly high in salt, with some containing more salt than eight McDonald’s Hamburgers.
PROTECTOR STUDY HOLDS FIRST COLLABORATORS’ MEETING
9 March 2020
A successful first meeting of the PROTECTOR study collaborators has been held, under the guidance of Chief Investigator Professor Ranjit Manchanda and his team at the Wolfson Institute.
A new meta-analysis published in the BMJ shows that salt reduction lowers blood pressure across the whole population, including among those with “normal” blood pressure, but also that people who are older, have higher blood pressure, or are of non-white ethnicity have an even bigger fall in blood pressure for a given reduction in salt intake. The study by the Wolfson’s Action on Salt group and other international researchers provides new evidence supporting salt reduction as a key public health strategy to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease.
A new survey by the Wolfson Institute’s Action on Sugar research group shows that ‘ready to drink’ pre-mixed spirits and cocktails are extremely high in hidden sugar.
Food industry fails to meet salt reduction targets in bacon
9 January 2020
New survey findings by Action on Salt, based at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, have revealed astonishing and varying levels of salt in bacon, whilst at the same time exposing the dismal lack of progress made by the food industry in meeting voluntary salt reduction targets. Bacon is the second biggest contributor to salt in the UK diet, and salt is the leading cause of raised blood pressure, which is the major cause of strokes and heart disease.
E-cigarettes paper in top 20 Altmetric list for 2019
17 December 2019
Research on e-cigarettes led by Professor Peter Hajek and colleagues from the Health and Lifestyle Research Unit at Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute is among the 20 most discussed papers in the world in 2019.
Anastrozole protects against breast cancer for at least 12 years
12 December 2019
A study led by Wolfson Institute Director Professor Jack Cuzick has confirmed that Anastrozole offers significant long-term protection for postmenopausal women who take it for five years. Findings from the IBIS-II trial published in the Lancet, and simultaneously presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas, show that in trial participants 12 years after starting Anastrozole (up to seven years after they last took the drug), breast cancer incidence was 49% lower than in women given a placebo.
A survey comparing sugar content in 83 carbonated sugar-sweetened soft drinks before and after the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has found a mean sugar decrease of 42%.
FESTIVE HOT DRINKS LOADED WITH SUGAR STILL EXEMPT FROM SUGAR TAX
3 December 2019
A national survey by Action on Sugar has found that some festive hot beverages contain almost as much sugar as three cans of Coca Cola, but these milk-based drinks remain exempt from the soft drinks industry levy.
Dr Belinda Nedjai and colleagues at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, have developed a non-invasive test to detect cervical pre-cancer by analysing urine and vaginal samples women collect themselves. In a presentation at the 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference, Dr Nedjai said that the self-sampling test had proved popular with women taking part in the study – suggesting it’s likely to improve participation in cervical cancer screening programmes.
Excess psychosis diagnoses amongst Black and South Asian men in deprived urban areas could reflect a cluster of disadvantage in specific places, rather than individual experiences of deprivation alone, a study led by Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine researchers at Queen Mary University of London concludes.
An analysis published on 3 October in JAMA Oncology describes a lifetime model evaluating the financial, health and social impact of multi-gene testing (BRCA1/2/PALB2) at diagnosis for all breast cancer patients, and concludes that the policy would save lives and be extremely cost effective for both UK and US health systems. The model incorporated data from 11,800 breast cancer patients in the UK, USA and Australia, and suggests that just one year’s testing could save 2102 cases of breast and ovarian cancer and 633 lives in the UK alone. In the US this would save 9733 cases of breast and ovarian cancer and 2406 lives.
An expert neurology research group co-chaired by Alastair Noyce of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London has produced an evidence-based report of policy recommendations, calling for policymakers, researchers, funding bodies, and healthcare professionals to collaborate in planning for the healthcare structures of the future, and to encourage individuals to actively prioritize their own brain health.
In a paper published in the Journal of Medical Screening, researchers from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and King’s College London have found that despite free cancer screening programmes, only 35% take part in all offered programmes.
Sauces in China 4.4 times saltier than similar sauces sold in the UK
9 September 2019
A new study on the salt content of sauces in China and the UK, led by researchers at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and The George Institute China, has found that:
- Sauces sold in China contained on average 4.4 times more salt than similar sauces sold in the UK；
- A large decline in the salt content of UK sauces over the course of the past 10 years has been observed in most sauces for which salt targets were set;
- 70% of UK products met the UK 2017 salt targets. If the same targets were applied to the Chinese products, only 13.4% would meet them.
Salt intake in China is confirmed to be among the highest in the world, with adults over the past four decades consistently consuming on average above 10g of salt a day, which is more than twice the recommended limit, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London.
Professor Graham MacGregor awarded CBE
10 June 2019
Dr Hormuzd Katki (National Cancer Institute)
Professor Hugh Watkins
(Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford)
Consumers misled on honey
3 May 2019
Consumers misled on honey and so-called healthier syrups, despite them being officially categorised the same way as table sugar
Professor Jack Cuzick wins ASCCP2019 Abstract Award
1 April 2019
The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology has awarded their prize for the Best Overall Scientific Abstract 2019 to Professor Jack Cuzick and his co-authors.
E-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement treatments, such as patches and gum, at helping smokers to quit, according to a clinical trial led by Queen Mary University of London.
CASH slams failure by many companies to reduce salt despite three weeks to go to reach the 2017 salt targets
Four QMUL researchers in the top 1 per cent
1 March 2018
Four researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have been placed in the top 1 per cent in the world, in this year’s Highly Cited Researchers list.
NEW shock survey reveals certain lunchtime meal deals sold by supermarkets and retailers contain up to 30 TEASPOONS of sugar – that’s the amount of sugar in 79 chocolate fingers
We are proud to announce that Kawther Hashem, Nutritionist and Researcher for Action on Sugar at Queen Mary University of London, has been awarded the GG2 Young Achiever Award at the GG2 Leadership Awards ceremony on Thursday 26th October. GG2 Leadership Awards have been, for the past 19 years, celebrating British talents and achievements among ethnic minorities.
NEW findings reveal some food manufacturers have INCREASED salt levels in their pesto sauces despite warnings that salt damages our health
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) will establish a new Centre for Preventive Neurology, thanks to £1.5m of funding from Barts Charity.
Wolfson staff win prizes at William Harvey Day
8 August 2017
Two members of staff from Wolfson Institute won prizes from the four poster awards at William Harvey Day yesterday.
Professor Jack Cuzick from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has been elected as a new Fellow of the Royal Society. The election is in recognition of his achievements in the application of basic science discoveries to the practice of medicine, particularly preventive medicine in cancer.
Wolfson MSc student wins QM prize
8 August 2017
One of our MSc students – Ioanna Skaltsa - has been awarded one of only 5 College prizes within the SMD this year awarded to postgraduate taught students for academic excellence ( as indicated by the award of a Masters Degree or an MClinDent with distinction).
At the CCP, Professor Stephen Duffy is continuing his exceptional research track record in cancer epidemiology, screening and policy.
His new publication reports the results of the TOMMY trial that tested the effectiveness of adding a 3D imaging technique to standard mammography.
Cuzick and Bhui receive honours from the Queen
8 August 2017
Academics from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have been given two appointments of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and an appointment of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), as published in the Queen’s New Year 2017 Honours List.
Tesco First to Take Action on Sugar
8 August 2017
- Action on Sugar’s plan for sugar reduction is underway!
- Tesco first to commit to reducing added sugars by 5% incrementally a year in ALL own label soft drinks
- Call on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to implement this strategy across the whole of the food and drink industry, with robust enforcement measures in place
- The UK can lead the world in reducing both the obesity and type 2 diabetes crisis
A study being published on 15th November in the BMJ Open entitled: Cross-sectional survey of the amount of sugar and calories in carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages on sale in the UK reveals, that the sugar content in carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages (CSSB) was found to be alarmingly high – with large variation in sugar content between different flavours and within the same type of flavour ranging from 3.3 to 52.8 g/330 mL – equivalent to 12 teaspoons.
Sugar - Cameron Must Act Now
8 August 2017
- Government's advisory committee FINALLY agrees to halve the recommendation for free sugars intakes to less than 5% of daily energy intake (i.e. 30g (7 tsp) for an adult) – less than one can of Coca Cola
- Calls for sugar-sweetened beverages to be minimised
- This represents a large and absolutely necessary reduction in sugar from current intakes; 12.1% to 5% for adults and 15.6% to 5% of daily energy intake for teenagers
- David Cameron must immediately take charge if the NHS is going to be saved from the crisis that we face from obesity and type 2 diabetes
Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have found text messaging prevents one in six patients from forgetting to take, or stopping, their prescribed medicines.
Violent Radicalisation and Terrorism are on the news on a daily basis with concerns expressed about young people involved in international terrorist movements. The process by which violent radicalisation takes place is complex and continuing to be investigated whilst counter-terrorism experts continue to try and minimise the risks and maximise public safety.
State of the Art Annual Congress
8 August 2017
This Mental Health Research Congress will bring together the best psychiatric research from international experts ranging from genomics through to public health. We will have cutting edge research presentations by international experts and by and from promising junior researchers who will become future leaders.
- Children’s juices can contain more sugars than Coca Cola!
- Parents should give their children water or whole fruit instead of juices
- These drinks are a major and unnecessary source of sugars and calories, causing tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes
- 98% of hot flavoured drinks would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving – with 35% containing the same amount or more sugar than a can of Coca Cola
- Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit - Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Venti is the worst offender, containing a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar - more than THREE times the maximum ADULT daily intake of free sugars (7tsp/d)
- With the imminent release of the government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy – Action on Sugar is calling for stricter product reformulation of sugar and fat with mandated targets, a ban on promotions and marketing of unhealthy products and a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened drinks
A modest reduction in salt intake could reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease in people with early onset type 2 diabetes, according to a study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and St. Helier Hospital.
Risk & Public Protection Research Group (RPPRG) meeting
8 August 2017
QMUL scientists win Cancer Research UK prize
8 August 2017
A team of researchers led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have been awarded the 2014 Cancer Research UK Prize for Translational Cancer Research at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool.
Professor Kelly Brownell lecture 2015
8 August 2017
New study on the link between depression and radicalisation launched
Leading QMUL cancer researcher Professor Jack Cuzick has been given a prestigious award for his contributions to clinical research
Prevention and Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
8 August 2017
Postgraduate Mental Health Open Evening
8 August 2017
- 85% of processed fruit snacks contain more sugars per 100g than sweets e.g. Haribo Starmix
- These snacks are a completely unnecessary source of sugars and calories, contributing to tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes and should NOT form part of a child’s 5 A Day
- New government urged to set sugar reduction targets immediately
Research led by CCP's Professor Sue Moss and the Bowel Cancer Screening Hubs has shown a markedly increased participation in a bowel cancer screening pilot study in England using a faecal immunochemical test for haemaglobin (FIT).
Data was presented in the prize-winning poster at the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) Conference, hosted by Cancer Research UK on 27-28 March 2015, which demonstrated that the uptake of screening with FIT was significantly greater than that for the currently used guaiac-based faecal occult blood test (gFOBt).
- Survey exposes misconception that popcorn is a healthy snack
- Cineworld large salted popcorn contains nearly the MAXIMUM daily recommended intake of salt for an adult! That’s more salt than two McDonald’s Big Mac & fries, and nearly the same amount of calories!
- Popcorn can also be extremely high in sugars, with some cinema popcorn containing nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar – more sugar than three cans of coca cola
- CASH calls for these very high levels of salt and sugars in popcorn to be immediately reduced
- Children’s meals in ‘family friendly’ eateries revealed to STILL contain dangerously high levels of salt - habituating children to the taste of salt
- Over a quarter of meals surveyed contain 2g or more of salt per meal - that’s the entire maximum recommendation for a whole day for a 1-3 year old – and more salt than 4 packets of crisps!
- Too much salt in childhood puts up blood pressure, which leads to strokes and heart failure
- Call for the maximum recommendation of salt for children to be lowered
- New analysis suggests direct link between salt intake and obesity. A 1 g/day increase in salt intake is associated with more than 25%
- increase in risk of obesity (both children and adults)
- Findings are independent of energy intake or sugar-sweetened beverage consumption
- CASH warns that an escalating obesity epidemic will cripple the NHS if the increase in diet related issues are not stopped immediately
- Government urged to act now by applying pressure on the food industry to achieve a 30% reduction in population salt intake
New research in northern China funded by the UK MRC shows that:
- Primary school children can get their whole family to reduce salt intake while being taught during their usual health education lessons about the dangers of eating salt and how to reduce it
- Over one school term (3.5 months), salt intake was reduced by a quarter in both children, and parents and grandparents with a significant fall in systolic blood pressure in adults
- This represents a novel and important way of reducing salt intake in countries where most of the salt is added by consumers
- It is estimated that the reduction in salt intake would prevent approximately 200,000 stroke and heart attack deaths per year in China alone, and also have major implications for other countries
New research has predicted one in two people in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lives, according to the most accurate forecast to date from Queen Mary University of London and Cancer Research UK.
- Over half of cereals (58%) contained high levels of sugar (over 22.5g/100g) – nearly 6 teaspoons of sugar per 100g
- Not one single product featured contained low levels of sugar
- The UK leads the way with SALT reduction BUT still has a way to go with SUGAR reduction – Kellogg’s Frosties contains a whopping 9 teaspoons of sugar/100g
- 98 out of 291 (34%) of cereals surveyed were above the 2017 UK salt target for breakfast cereals
- WASH calls on breakfast cereal manufacturers to reduce the salt and sugar of its products to the lowest levels across all countries
Full data set availablehere [PDF 500KB]
Full media coverage here
- Eight out of ten (134/163) meals contain more than 1g salt per serving – that’s the max recommendation for a meal for a child aged 4-6 years
- One meal contained as much salt as 10 packets of ready salted crisps (5.34g)
- Over a year, a child in Costa Rica could be eating a WHOPPING 18 teaspoons (106.56g) MORE salt than a child eating the same meal in the UK
- Too much salt in childhood habituates children to the taste of salt, and puts up blood pressure, which leads to strokes and heart failure
Scientists have developed a new HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine which protects against nine types of the virus – seven of which cause most cases of cervical cancer. The new vaccine offers significantly greater protection than the current vaccine, which protects against only two cancer causing types of HPV.
The preventive effect of breast cancer drug ‘tamoxifen’ remains virtually constant for at least 20 years – with rates reduced by around 30 per cent – new analysis published in The Lancet Oncology reveals
- New research exposes instant noodles can contain dangerously high levels of salt e.g. Ko-Lee Instant Noodles Chicken Flavour contains more salt per serving than 12 packets of salted crisps!
- 6 products contain 5g or more of salt per serving – that is more than the World Health Organisation recommended maximum daily intake for salt
- Several supermarkets’ own labels contain 10 times less salt
- Over a third of products surveyed contain more than 2 teaspoons of sugar per serving
The food we eat is now the BIGGEST cause of death and ill health in the UK, owing to the large amounts of salt, saturated fat and sugars added by the food industry. The UK is in desperate need of an independent agency to improve nutrition, which the responsibility deal has failed to do according to a new paper by CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health), published today in the BMJ.
The UK’s salt reduction programme, started in 2005 and pioneered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and CASH, has been considered a worldwide success. The programme involved a collaborative effort with the food industry to reduce salt in the nation’s diet. This was done by setting up specific salt targets for 86 categories of food, with the aim of re-setting them every 4 years. Whilst the targets remained voluntary, monitoring of the food industry was maintained throughout, ensuring no company lagged behind. As a result, significant reductions in salt intake were made at a population level, consequently reducing blood pressure and resulting in fewer deaths from heart attack and stroke.
Unfortunately under the coalition government, responsibility for nutrition was taken away from the FSA by Andrew Lansley, disturbing progress in salt reduction made by the FSA. Lansley’s decision to hand power back to the food industry as part of the flawed responsibility deal has meant potentially 4 years of salt reduction has been lost, putting an estimated 6,000 lives per year at risk and draining valuable NHS resources.
CASH is now calling for urgent action to protect and improve the nation’s health together with an independent agency for nutrition and a transparent monitoring programme to improve the food that we eat once and for all.
“The food industry is the biggest and most powerful industry in the world. Most of the foods that it currently provides are very high in salt, fat and sugars, causing increased risk of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks, and predisposing to cancer than healthier alternatives. It is therefore imperative that robust mechanisms should be set up immediately to control the food industry in a similar way to the tobacco industry,” says Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and leading author of the BMJ paper.
“If the food industry were forced to produce healthier food, it would result in major reductions in cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as healthcare costs.”
In 2005, the FSA – the independent governing body responsible for nutrition at that time – developed the first set of voluntary salt targets for the food industry to follow. This was drawn up following strong evidence that salt intake raised blood pressure. Along with public awareness campaigns e.g. Sid the Slug, close monitoring and enforcement of the targets was made by the FSA and non-governmental organisations to ensure that all major food companies were involved. The targets were set up with the intention of gradually lowering them further every four years until the target for population salt intake of 6g/day was achieved.
In the 5 years after the policy was introduced the salt content of many food products has been gradually reduced by around 20-40%, with no reported loss of sales. Within the same period of time, average population salt intake has fallen by 15%, from 9.5g/day to 8.1g/day. This was accompanied by a fall in population blood pressure and mortality from stroke and coronary heart disease. As a result of these reductions, it is estimated that 9,000 deaths from stroke and coronary heart disease have been prevented each year, with annual healthcare savings of around £1.5bn in the UK.
Disruption by the coalition government
Following the formation of the coalition government in 2010, Andrew Lansley was appointed secretary of state for health and transferred responsibility for nutrition from the FSA to the Department of Health. This disrupted the salt reduction programme, making it unclear who would be responsible for the policy. In 2011, Lansley launched the responsibility deal, whereby he made the alcohol and food industries responsible for reducing alcohol consumption and improving nutrition, respectively!
No further commitment to the salt targets were made by the responsibility deal, until Andrew Lansley was replaced by Jeremy Hunt and Anna Soubry was appointed minister for Public Health. New targets were eventually set in 2014 to be achieved by 2017, but the delay has meant momentum in salt reduction has been lost, with many companies stopping or slowing down their planned reductions in salt added to foods.
This delay has disrupted progress in salt reduction. CASH estimates that over the last four years salt intake would have been further reduced by around 0.9g/day. Assuming no salt reductions have been made over this period, the lost 0.9 g/day corresponds to approximately 6,000 deaths per year from stroke and heart attack which could have been prevented, over 4,000 per year of which would have been premature.
Additionally, there has been very poor sign-up to the 2017 salt targets, with big companies such as Unilever, McDonalds and Kellogg’s failing to publicly commit to the responsibility deal.
Sonia Pombo, a nutritionist at CASH and joint author says, “The responsibility deal is no longer fit for purpose. For too long the food industry have been allowed to police themselves, putting the health of our nation at risk. It is therefore imperative that responsibility for nutrition be handed back to an independent agency, where it is not affected by changes in government, ministers, or political lobbying. Let’s get the UK back on track with salt reduction and retain our status as world leaders.”
- 46% of breakfast biscuits surveyed contain the same or more sugars than a bowl (30g) of Kellogg’s Coco Pops
- 38% of products would have a red warning colour on front of pack nutrition labelling for high sugar content
- Not ONE single product featured green front of pack labelling for sugars
- Every single product contained at least one and some up to four teaspoons of sugars per serving
- Government urged to include reformulation and clearer guidance on labelling as part of its long overdue Childhood Obesity Strategy due to be published this summer
Academics researching molecular biology and clinical medicine have been named on Thomson Reuter’s Highly Cited Researchers 2015 list which recognises the top one per cent most cited papers published between 2003 and 2013
First IBIS-II results published
8 August 2017
Energy Drinks Fuel the Obesity Epidemic
8 August 2017
- New research reveals huge and unnecessary amount of sugars in energy drinks
- Energy drinks contain up to 20 teaspoons of sugar (78g) per 500ml serving – more than THREE times the maximum ADULT daily intake of free sugars per day (25g)
- These products serve no purpose whatsoever but make children addicted to caffeine and habituated to sugars
- Sales of energy drinks to children under 16 should be BANNED!
For full data per 100ml, click here [PDF 253KB]
For full data per serving, click here [PDF 302KB]
For media coverage, click here
Dr John Schiller lecture 2016
8 August 2017
- NEW research exposes many shop bought dips as being huge salt and fat traps loaded with excess calories
- A staggering 74% of houmous products have a red front of pack label for fat
- A serving of ASDA’s taramasalata contains as much salt as 13 Ritz crackers
- CASH is urgently calling for the government’s to stop dragging their feet and produce a strong and robust Obesity Strategy that will include reducing salt and fat in the nation’s diet
Daily aspirin can reduce cancer risk
8 August 2017
Cereals Still Stuffed With Sugar
8 August 2017
- Manufacturers claim to be improving the nation’s breakfast but in fact the highest sugar containing cereals have either increased or stayed the same since 2012
- 14 out of 50 cereals contain a THIRD or more (≥33.3g/100g) sugar, or 8 teaspoons per 100g
- Companies should look to the success of the salt reduction programme and reduce sugars, NOW!
- NEW findings reveal only 1 out of the 28 food categories surveyed by CASH are on track to meet Public Health England’s (PHE) 2017 Salt Reduction Targets - with just 9 months to go New FoodSwitch UK App exposes huge variations in salt content of similar shopping basket items – the saltiest shopping basket had 107g of salt compared to a basket containing the same categories of foods with only 47g of salt i.e. a 60g difference which is equivalent to 130 bags of Walkers Ready Salted crisps
- Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate is saltier than seawater and has 16 times more salt (per 100g) than the maximum target – one serving is saltier than a bag of crisps!
- CASH is now asking PHE to immediately ensure that the 2017 targets are met and that they urgently set MANDATORY targets for 2020, as asked for by many leading supermarkets
- 88% of sugar-sweetened soft drink products contain more than your entire recommendation for the day (25g)1 in a 330ml can
- Sprite in Thailand contains the highest amount of free sugars - a staggering 12 tsp of sugar in a single can2
- UK manufacturers still producing drinks high in free sugars despite being one of the countries in Europe where obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay are high
- Leading supermarkets in the UK prefer to follow set sugar reduction targets – branded companies must now do the same
That’s three times a child’s entire daily-recommended maximum sugar intake1 and more sugar than 10 Krispy Kremes
- A Lemon Slice, Blueberry Muffin and a Carrot Cake are the worst offenders, sold in Starbucks and Pret a Manger – each with 10 or more teaspoons of sugar per serving
- Compared to cafes, supermarkets are leading the way when it comes to offering customers lower calories and sugar per serving
- Action on Sugar urges food manufacturers and cafes to participate in Public Health England’s voluntary sugar reduction programme to help tackle obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Today, Action on Sugar publishes an evidenced-based 6 point plan for immediate action by Cameron
- Establishing an independent, but government-funded, agency is critical for industry regulation
- The escalating costs of obesity (£5.1 billion) and type 2 diabetes (£10 billion) are likely to bankrupt the NHS