By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

food policies

Hundreds of thousands of cardiovascular disease deaths could be prevented annually by food policies and mass media campaigns to change dietary habits, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Using a modeling approach, researchers estimated that a national subsidy to reduce the cost of fruits and vegetables by 10% could result in 150,500 fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 2030.

Meanwhile, researches estimated that a 30 percent fruit and vegetable subsidy targeting only Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could avert nearly 35,100 CVD deaths by 2030. SNAP is a government program that provides food-purchasing assistance to low- and no-income people living in the U.S.

A mass media campaign to change dietary habits could save 25,800 lives from cardiovascular disease, while a 10 percent tax on sugary beverages could avert 31,000 deaths by 2030, researchers said.

A combination of policy approaches would be more effective than any single policy and could save 230,000 lives and reduce the heart-health disparity between SNAP recipients and non-SNAP recipients, according to the study that was published in PLOS Medicine.

The study authors said in a news release that implementing such policies nationwide could “powerfully reduce cardiovascular disease mortality and disparities.”

Although diet quality has been improving in the U.S. since the early 2000s, overall dietary quality is still poor, with a widening gap associated with education and income, according to the American Heart Association.

Incentive programs have demonstrated that diet quality within SNAP can improve consumers’ quality of life, the AHA said in a recent policy statement.