February 10, 2009 / 3:03 PM / 10 years ago

Britons eating 20 percent too much fat

A portion of traditional English cod and chips are served wrapped in paper in central London December 15, 2000. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britons are eating 20 percent more saturated fat than they should, the country’s Food Standards Agency said on Tuesday as it launched an advertising campaign promoting healthier diets.

The 40-second TV ad shows a jug of saturated fat being poured down a kitchen sink, overloading and blocking the pipe.

“People say they do know that saturated fat is bad for them but they don’t necessarily link it to heart disease,” said the agency’s Chief Executive Tim Smith.

“It’s important they make that connection, because heart disease is the UK’s number one killer — one in three of us will die as a result,” Smith said.

The agency recommended people grill rather than fry food, cut the fat off meat, switch to low-fat food products and use vegetable oils instead of butter.

A high intake of saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, angina or stroke.

The agency said cutting such intake could prevent up to 3,500 premature deaths per year and help save the British economy more than 1 billion pounds a year in health costs.

In a survey, the FSA found that only 29 percent of people take the fatty skin off poultry, only 24 percent cut white fat bits off meat joints and less than half (43 percent) grill their meat instead of frying.

Reporting by Martina Fuchs, Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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