Tag Archives: Health

nestle choco

Nestle to slash amount of sugar in chocolate bars by 10% by 2018

Some of the UK’s favourite chocolate bars – including Kit Kats and Yorkies – will contain 10% less sugar by 2018, Nestle has announced.

The confectioner said it would use around 7,500 tonnes less sugar to make its products by next year.

The sugar will be replaced with higher quantities of other existing ingredients or other, non-artificial ingredients

Nestle has said it will use 10% less sugar in its chocolate bars, which include Kit Kats, by 2018

Products will also be kept below a certain amount of calories.

Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO of Nestle UK and Ireland, said: “Our confectionery brands have been enjoyed in the UK for more than a century and we know that if we can improve these products nutritionally, provide more choice and information for the consumer, together with other categories, we can have a significant impact on public health.

“Nestle is at the forefront of efforts to research and develop new technology that makes food products better for our consumers.

“These innovations will help us to reduce sugar in confectionery when they are combined with other, more common methods like reformulating recipes and swapping sugar for other, non-artificial ingredients.

“Making these improvements to our products is key to us delivering better choices for our consumers while retaining the same great taste that they know and love.”

Sourced by the Mail Online

How spicing up dinner could save your life: Eating hot food three times a week ‘reduces the risk of early death from cancer or heart disease’

People who eat spicy food every day have a lower risk of an early death, research suggests.
Scientists found that spicy food was linked to fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease and breathing problems.
A study of nearly 500,000 middle-aged people found that those who ate a spicy meal every one or two days were far less likely to die than those who infrequently ate the food. 
Scientists suspect that capsaicin — a chemical contained in chili peppers — has anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and cancer fighting properties.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on a study of 487,000 Chinese people, each aged between the ages of 30 and 79. 
Each participant was questioned about their general health and eating habits, and then tracked over the following seven years, in which time 20,224 of them died.
The researchers, from Oxford University, Harvard School of Public Health in the US and the Chinese  
Academy of Medical Sciences, found that people who ate spicy food every one or two days were 14 per cent less likely to die than those who ate it less than once a week.
Frequent consumption of spicy foods was particularly linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease and breathing problems.
The authors stressed that because they had only looked at broad statistical trends, and not at the exact role spice had played in each case, they could draw no concrete conclusions about cause and effect.
But they cited previous research which has linked capsaicin to resistance to obesity, cancer and other diseases.
Experts last night welcomed the findings — but stressed that they should be treated with caution.
They pointed out that Chinese people have a different diet and lifestyle to those in the West.
Professor Kevin McConway of the Open University, said: ‘It’s important to realise that the study gives very little encouragement for the stereotypical English pastime of going out for several pints of beer and a hot curry.
‘The relationship between eating spicy food and a lower death rate was apparent really only in people who didn’t drink alcohol at all.’
Source Mail Online

Three million Britons are working night shifts – and endangering their health

The number of people working regular night shifts has increased to more than three million since the recession, at a potential cost to their health and family life, new research has disclosed.
One in eight of the workforce is now employed while the rest of Britain sleeps, with a particularly steep rise in female staff on antisocial hours.
The TUC analysis follows studies suggesting a link between night-time working and increased likelihood of suffering such conditions as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.
It called for late-night staff to be given extra rights to protect them from exploitation which could harm their mental and physical health.
The report was published ahead of a strike from this evening by London Underground workers in a row over moves to an all-night Tube service. The rail unions’ complaints include protests about the impact on the work/life balance of their members.
The TUC said the number working at night has risen from 2,961,000 in 2007 to 3,168,000 in 2014. The percentage working at night has gone up from 11.7 per cent to 12.3 per cent.
It predicted the proportion would continue rising because of moves to make NHS services available seven days a week, as well as a drive to increase the availability of late-night public transport, which could in turn encourage retailers to open all hours.
Last year 14.9 per cent of male staff worked the night shift, compared with 9.7 per cent of female employees, but the gap between the sexes is narrowing. Regular night working has increased by 12 per cent for women and by 4 per cent for men since 2007, and the two sectors with the highest percentage of night workers – care workers and nursing and midwifery – are female-dominated.
A higher proportion of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds work at night compared with the overall workforce, and young workers are far more likely to be employed at night than older colleagues.
The TUC said night-time working was likely to affect employees’ social and family life, putting strain on relationships with partners and children. Arguing that the impact would be mitigated if employees had more control over their hours, the TUC said no existing staff should be forced to work at night and for shift patterns to be negotiated between unions and employers.
It also called for pay for night shifts to reflect the likely extra costs of childcare and inconvenience of working antisocial hours.
Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “We all value night workers, whether they are cleaning our office, caring for a sick relative or driving all night so there are fresh goods in our local shop.
“But night work is hard and it disrupts family life, so we must show our appreciation for the sacrifices night workers make by ensuring they have rights and protections.
“It is not right for employers to require night working without adequate consultation and negotiation. With night work increasing, employers must play fair and safe, or public safety will be put at risk and the families of night workers will suffer.”
She added: “We encourage the Government and employers to positively engage with trade unions on fair and sensible rights for night workers, so that we continue to enjoy the social benefits night workers give us without harm to them or the public.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The UK labour market allows people to get the type of work they want and businesses to structure their workforce in the way they need. Flexible working is a way of finding a balance that suits both employee and employer.”

Case study: ‘I quite like night shifts’

Clare Lynch, 33, works in a Brighton call centre
I’ve been working night shifts for seven years now. Initially I started because I was a student and it fitted around my studies quite well. I work a shift pattern of two days on, three days off. Each shift starts at 7pm and finishes at 7am.
It’s not that bad working nights if you’re single, but if you’re in a relationship or have a family it can be really hard as you may only see them for a couple of hours some days.
I’ve never really gotten that badly sick. Stomach problems are quite common due to eating at strange hours.
I actually quite like working shifts. One of the benefits of working nights is that you have more freedom compared to a 9am–5pm job. You’re left to your own devices a lot.
Source The Independent

Exercise ‘not key to obesity fight’

Physical activity has little role in tackling obesity – and instead public health messages should squarely focus on unhealthy eating, doctors say.

In an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three international experts said it was time to “bust the myth” about exercise.

They said while activity was a key part of staving off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia, its impact on obesity was minimal.

Instead excess sugar and carbohydrates were key.

The experts, including London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, blamed the food industry for encouraging the belief that exercise could counteract the impact of unhealthy eating.

They even likened their tactics as “chillingly similar” to those of Big Tobacco on smoking and said celebratory endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end.

They said there was evidence that up to 40% of those within a normal weight range will still harbour harmful metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity.

But despite this public health messaging had “unhelpfully” focused on maintaining a healthy weight through calorie counting when it was the source of calories that mattered most – research has shown that diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed compared to fat calories.

And they pointed to evidence from the Lancet global burden of disease programme which shows that unhealthy eating was linked to more ill health than physical activity, alcohol and smoking combined.


Dr Malhotra said: “An obese person does not need to do one iota of exercise to lose weight, they just need to eat less. My biggest concern is that the messaging that is coming to the public suggests you can eat what you like as long as you exercise.

“That is unscientific and wrong. You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

But others said it was risky to play down the role of exercise. Prof Mark Baker, of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which recommends “well-balanced diets combined with physical activity”, said it would be “idiotic” to rule out the importance of physical activity.

A Food and Drink Federation spokeswoman said: “The benefits of physical activity aren’t food industry hype or conspiracy, as suggested. A healthy lifestyle will include both a balanced diet and exercise.”

She said the industry was encouraging a balanced diet by voluntarily providing clear on-pack nutrition information and offering products with extra nutrients and less salt, sugar and fat.

“This article appears to undermine the origins of the evidence-based government public health advice, which must surely be confusing for consumers,” she added.

Sourced from the BBC Online

School rugby plan ‘too dangerous’

A government drive to boost participation in rugby in English schools is ill-conceived and risks children getting seriously hurt, public health doctors have warned.

Prof Allyson Pollock and colleagues at Queen Mary University of London say the contact sport is too dangerous.

They do not want an outright ban but say the sport must change and safeguards are needed.

The Rugby Football Union said steps had been taken to make the sport safer.

The RFU says the physical and social benefits that rugby offers to children “massively outweigh any potential drawbacks” and that myriad safety measures are already in place.

These include the provision of a safe environment through investment in pitches and facilities, ensuring adequate first aid and medical facilities, and fully training coaches in methods to prevent injuries to young players.

Ministers also want to see more children taking up sport.

In 2012, then Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt announced a plan to link up thousands of schools with rugby clubs.

But Prof Pollock fears there are not enough safety checks and measures to support this, meaning children could get hurt. She wants to see an increase in the recording of injuries and better injury prevention analysis. She claims that, compared with New Zealand, the UK has few strategies to protect players.

Contact sport

Each season, children have about a one in 10 chance of getting injured badly enough that they need at least seven days off the pitch.

Some injuries are minor, but others can cause permanent disability.

Most rugby injuries occur during the tackle, as players collide at speed.

But scrums are the most dangerous part of play, where some of the most serious injuries occur, Prof Pollock and colleagues say in their report in the British Medical Journal.

Concussion and spinal trauma are the big concerns.

Some injuries can prove fatal – as the Robinson family from County Antrim know only too well after their 14-year-old son, Ben, died having been hurt in a school rugby match in 2011.

He collapsed at the end of that match after he was involved in a series of heavy tackles. An inquest heard that the teenager died from brain injuries.

Prof Pollock says not enough is being done to put in place injury monitoring and prevention strategies – and little is known about what really works.

Safety first

“Only by collecting injury data and by providing feedback to individuals and organisations working on safety initiatives will the short – and long-term impact of injury prevention programmes, whether for rugby or any other sport, be known,” she said.

She added some measures – such as matching child rugby players by size rather than age, playing only non-contact matches and having fewer players on the pitch at any one time – may help reduce the frequency of the most severe injuries.

The RFU says set-phase play such as scrums and line-outs are introduced gradually, according to a child’s rugby development, with scrums initially only containing three players per side and are uncontested.

An RFU spokesman said: “We take player safety extremely seriously, and this is at the core of all the training we deliver to coaches, referees and medics, at all levels of the game.

“Rugby for young people at schools or clubs in England exists in different forms, both contact and non-contact.

“Significant work has been undertaken over a number of years to develop new rules of play to ensure maximum possible safety, with a structured progression to cover the introduction, playing, teaching and refereeing of the game from under-seven to under-18.”

A government spokesman said: “Player safety in schools and at all levels of sport is absolutely paramount and sports governing bodies and the government are completely committed to it.

“The rugby governing bodies work hard to ensure the sport in schools is played as safely as possible and that young people reap the benefits of participating – boosting their health, self-esteem and encouraging teamwork.”

Sourced from the BBC Online

Election 2015: Fewer nurses forecast for NHS – Labour

The number of NHS nurses in England is set to fall by almost 2,000 over the next four years according to government projections, Labour has said.

Accusing the Conservatives of having a “secret plan”, Labour’s Andy Burnham said fewer nurses would push hospitals “over the edge”.

The health document Labour is basing its claims on says fewer nurses would be employed because of “affordability”.

The Tories said the real threat to nurses was a Labour-SNP government.

The Liberal Democrats said neither Labour nor the Tories had a credible response to NHS “funding challenges”.

The figures Labour are using are included in a document entitled Health Education England’s (HEE) Workforce Plan for England 2015-16, and it predicts the NHS will have 1,966 fewer full-time nurses by 2019.

The reductions include 748 full-time-equivalent adult nursing posts, 131 in disability learning nursing and 1,552 in mental health nursing. Only paediatric nursing is set to increase – by 465 posts according to the figures.

At the same time, Labour said an analysis by the independent House of Commons Library of the latest NHS Workforce Census showed the number of nurses per million of the population had fallen from 5,324 in September 2009 to 5,172 in September 2014.

‘Mansion tax’

Shadow health secretary Mr Burnham said: “Labour has set out a better plan to invest £2.5bn extra each year – on top of Tory spending plans – paid for by a mansion tax on homes worth £2m, to fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs.”

He said the NHS could not “take five more years of David Cameron”.

His party has said it wants to pay for extra nurses through its “Time to Care Fund”, which will use money not only from a mansion tax, but also by cracking down on tax avoidance, and imposing levies on tobacco firms.

However, a Conservative spokesman said Labour’s figures were based on out-of-date financial assumptions.

A spokesman said: “The only threat to nursing numbers is the threat of an Ed Miliband-SNP government that refuses to give the NHS the money it has said it needs.

“Under the Conservatives the number of nurses has increased by 6,900 and even this report shows that the number in training continues to rise.”

The NHS has become a major battleground for the main political parties, with more announcements on the health service expected over the coming days.

The Conservatives have already pledged an extra £8bn a year for the NHS in England by 2020 if they win the election, which according to the Tories, “is the only way to ensure hospitals have the money they need to increase staff.”

The £8m figure is one NHS England boss Simon Stevens cited as the funding gap between what the NHS currently receives and what it needs to implement his modernisation programme.

But Labour has accused the Tories of making an “unfunded” pledge.

The Lib Dems have also pledged £8bn for the NHS funded by scrapping some tax reliefs.

Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb said only his party would ensure the NHS had the resources and staffing that it needed.

He said: “Labour are unwilling to commit the £8bn needed and the Tories refuse to say how they will find the money and will not be honest about the huge and ideological cuts that they will make to public services.”

Sourced from the BBC Online

Scientists call for stop to ‘one-size-fits-all’ weight loss plans

Doctors need to move beyond a “one-size-fits-all” approach to tackling obesity, say scientists in Sheffield.

The analysis of 4,144 obese people in Yorkshire showed they fitted into six distinct categories, each of which may need a different weight-loss strategy.

One example is heavy-drinking young men, according to the report published in the Journal of Public Health.

Prof Susan Jebb, from the University of Oxford, said the study did not show if the traits explained people’s weight.

Around 67% of men and 57% of women are either overweight or obese according to their Body Mass Index.

“It is just a measure of height and weight and I think it generalises everyone into this one group and that’s not the case really,” said lead researcher Dr Mark Green at the University of Sheffield.

The team there used the Yorkshire Health Study to analyse the health and behavioural characteristics of obese people.

They said obese people, broadly, came into one of six groups:

  •     Young males who were heavy drinkers
  •     Middle-aged individuals who were unhappy and anxious
  •     Older people who, despite living with physical health conditions, were happy
  •     Younger healthy females
  •     Older affluent and healthy adults
  •     Individuals with very poor health

Dr Green told the BBC News website: “I think we need to go from a one-size-fits-all approach to acknowledging there are different groups.

“We need people to think about how to tailor messages to target these different groups, the role of alcohol on body weight needs to be aimed at young males but may not be appropriate for younger females.”

Prof Susan Jebb, from the University of Oxford, said: “I am the first person to say that there is huge inter-individual variation among people who are obese.

“The big limitation is that it is a cross-sectional analysis – it does not tell us if these characteristics explain why people have become overweight and it does not tell us that a particular kind of intervention would work better to treat their obesity.”

Sourced from the BBC Online

Disaster doctor sent to under-pressure Worcestershire Royal

Health bosses were forced to bring in a doctor who is usually on call for major disasters to cope with problems at an under-pressure A&E department.

The doctor, known as a medical incident officer, cared for eight patients at Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Friday night.

In an “unprecedented” move, West Midlands Ambulance Service demanded action following delays in treatment.

The Care Quality Commission said it was monitoring the situation.

It was the first time a medical incident officer has been deployed to a hospital in the West Midlands, according to the ambulance service.

A spokeswoman for the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said she was not aware of it having happened elsewhere.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman called the decision to send the doctor “unprecedented” and “not taken lightly”.

An unidentified senior clinical member of staff from the trust said: “The problem at the moment is that the Worcestershire hospital is far too small. They can’t cope with the number of admissions or the number of walk-in patients that turn up in A&E.

“These things mean we have ended up with a crisis in A&E.

“They have now drawn little rectangles into the corridors to signify that is a corridor bed. It’s incredibly stressful. It becomes a Third World situation where only the very sickest patients can be treated properly.”

Patients treated by the medical incident officer included one who had been left for four hours following a seizure and another with a suspected blood clot who had been left in the hands of ambulance staff.

Another had been waiting five hours with heart-related chest pain, ambulance staff said.

The last time a medical incident officer was called out was when a firework warehouse exploded in Stafford in October.

The Care Quality Commission said it was aware that West Midlands Ambulance Service took the action at the weekend and was monitoring the situation.

It has already carried out an inspection of the emergency department and said it would report its conclusions soon.
The MIO cared for eight patients who were not admitted into the A&E department

Emergency departments under pressure

  •     A paramedic, Stuart Gardner, blew the whistle on overcrowding in Worcester’s corridors in January
  •     In February, five emergency specialists left the trust claiming the “massive overcrowding” was a disgrace and caused “serious harm” to many patients
  •     On 23 March the BBC reported two cardiac arrests in the corridor in one week and 28 patients waiting to access the emergency department
  •     The following day the Care Quality Commission undertook an unannounced inspection. A day later a risk summit took place involving all health parties in the county
  •     All routine surgery was cancelled ahead of the Easter holiday to free up beds and ensure the smooth running of Accident and Emergency

The trust said the latest peak over the past two weekends was caused by a 15% increase in blue light ambulance calls, a figure disputed by the ambulance service.

Mary Wilkes from Stourport-on-Severn said her 89-year-old very sick husband was taken to the emergency department on Saturday 4 April and was still on a trolley when she left 11 hours later.

Her next-door-neighbour, Roger Barry, complained after being left for more than 15 hours on a trolley in February. He said he had not yet received a response to his complaint.

Sourced from the BBC Online

Breath test ‘could give clues to stomach cancer risk’

A simple breath test could help predict whether people with gut problems are at high risk of developing stomach cancer, an early study shows.

It detects chemical compounds in people’s breath, in an attempt to distinguish unique “breath prints” in those with risky pre-cancerous changes.

Experts say if proven in large trials, it could spot patients on the brink of cancer so they can be treated earlier.

But more work is needed to validate the test, which appears in the journal Gut.

‘Sniffing signals’

Stomach cancers affect about 7,300 people each year in the UK.

But in most Western countries it is diagnosed late when the chance of survival is poor. This is partly because symptoms – such as indigestion and pain – can be mistaken for other diseases.

Scientists believe earlier detection may help improve the prognosis.

The new “nanoarray” breath test builds on earlier work from researchers in Israel, Latvia and China.

It relies on the idea that people with cancer may have unique breath signatures – containing minute chemical compounds that are not found in the breath of people free from the illness.

Researchers studied breath samples from 145 patients. Around 30 of these were already known to have stomach cancer.

The rest had been referred for investigations because of concerning symptoms. They did not have full-blown cancer – but some had worrying changes that doctors call “pre-cancerous” that could develop into malignancies.

Scientists tried out the test on a number of different scenarios.

It was fairly good at spotting cancerous samples from non-cancerous ones.

And it showed some promise at identifying worrying pre-cancerous changes that were at high risk of developing into the disease.

But it was not accurate in every case – some patients were misdiagnosed as being at high risk.

Scientists say more work is needed before it is ready to use in clinics.

Dr Emma Smith of Cancer Research UK, said: “Diagnosing cancer in its early stages offers patients the best chance of successful treatment, so research like this has potential to help save lives.

“But we would need to be sure the test is sensitive and accurate enough to be used more widely.”

Research involving thousands of European patients is now under way.

Sourced at the BBC Online

Ebola test ‘unlikely’ to be positive

A Scottish man is being tested for Ebola after returning from west Africa but health officials said it was “very unlikely” he would have the virus.

The man was admitted to a hospital in Glasgow in the early hours after showing possible symptoms of the virus.

He was taken to the Brownlee Centre for infectious diseases at Gartnavel Hospital at about 02:20.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the results were expected on Tuesday afternoon.

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “A man has been admitted to hospital this morning and is being tested for Ebola. He had come from Liberia.”

He said it is thought “very unlikely” that the man has Ebola.

A year after the outbreak in West Africa was officially declared, the virus has killed more than 10,000 people.

Most deaths occurred in the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Sourced from the BBC Online