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Nutrition considerations as key elements in the development and production of food products

Nutrition considerations are often key elements in the development and production of food products.Discuss the influence of dietary trends and guidelines such as Health of the Nation on the production of food products.

Over the last 20 years the number of people who are obese has increased three fold and is still rising.In 1998 30,000 premature deaths in England were caused by obesity.

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It is estimated that nearly two thirds of men and over half the women in this country are now overweight or obese. This problem is increasing faster in this country than any other European country and if the trend continues to rise at the current rate then by 2010 one in four adults will be obese.

Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis are all conditions that are linked to obesity. All these conditions represent a great burden on the National Health Service. Heart disease causes 270,000 heart attacks each year in the United Kingdom and if obesity continues to rise then so will the incidences of coronary heart disease. Not only does the National Health Service carry the burden of obesity, but the economy of the country as whole through lost work days as a result of obesity related illnesses.

There is no easy way for the Government of any country to tackle this problem, but there is scope for promotion of healthier lifestyles. Experts blame the rise in obesity on a combination of a less active lifestyle and changes to our eating patterns. Combating obesity relies on well-balanced, healthy eating and an increase in regular physical activity.

In 1998 the Government published its Green Paper ‘Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation’. This is an action plan to tackle the poor health, realising that “good health is fundamental to all our lives”. It focused on tackling the main killers: cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke, accidents and mental illness. The Government set targets in these priority areas. One of the targets was to reduce the death rate from coronary heart disease and stroke by at least two fifths in people under 75 by the year 2010. Individual choices about lifestyle, such as diet, have a direct impact on health and as such people should be encouraged to adopt healthy eating habits. However, healthy foods, at least in Britain, are not only more expensive then unhealthy foods, but also take longer to prepare. For many people these days time as well as money costs can be an important determinant of lifestyle choice.

Supermarkets have extended their range of fresh fruit in recent years with import form all over the world. Healthy foods are now clearly marked and in fact the government has legislated that all food products should be clearly marked with their nutritional values for customers to make an informed choice. Manufacturers are well aware that people are far more aware of the need to adopt a healthier diet and mark their products accordingly. Consumers can be targeted through the mass media and advertisers target certain groups.

Health promotion has a role to play in educating the nation towards a healthier lifestyle, including diet. The Government is committed to improving the health of the nation and hopes to empower individuals to take charge of their own health through education. Schools have an important part to play in educating its pupils towards a healthy lifestyle.

The Green Paper “Our Healthier Nation” is aimed mainly at the Health Service and the role it can play in helping to bring down the death rate and the main theme is to educate the individual to make informed choice regarding their lifestyle. It is not really aimed at manufacturers of food products, but people’s awareness and demand for a healthier diet will drive the manufacturers to be more proactive in the production of healthier products.

Whilst the problem of poor health caused by obesity appears to be the target of most health education programmes, it is important to remember that malnutrition can also be a problem. However, this is more often thought of as a problem of the third world countries.

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