a1 British Nutrition Foundation, 52-54 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6RQ, UK
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of premature death in the UK and a major cause of ill health and disability. Whilst death rates from CVD have been falling since the late 1970's in the UK, levels of morbidity (such as angina) do not seem to be falling and may even be rising in some age-groups, especially as the population ages. There is broad consensus that lifestyle factors, including physical activity and diet, are fundamental determinants of heart disease risk. Current recommendations to reduce cardiovascular risk include maintaining a healthy body weight, eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day, reducing intake of fat (particularly saturated fatty acids), reducing salt intake and eating one portion of oily fish per week. Although some improvements have been made in recent years (e.g. a reduction in total fat intake), national studies suggest that more effective campaigns are required to increase awareness of the benefits of these dietary changes. The present paper will discuss how the dietary messages relating to CVD are best communicated to the general public and will identify some of the main barriers to their implementation.