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As a part of its ongoing health awareness campaign, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), launched a new project in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) on Saturday 20 June 2009 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. Called ‘Social Cooking’, the aim of this project is to encourage communities to use recipes that are healthier, specifically by being lower in salt and saturated fat content. The project also aims to provide information on the impact of excessive salt and fat on health and offer guidance on how to change shopping, cooking and eating habits at home – while still enjoying tasty traditional meals.

Peter Collins, Chief Executive of BHF, was present to launch the project. In his short but informative address, he discussed the project’s scope and significance, confirming that South Asians in the UK are highly vulnerable to cardiovascular disease. A healthy diet is a major factor in preventing heart disease, and the BHF was delighted to be working with religious communities like BAPS to provide practical help in encouraging healthy eating habits. He was confident that this would yield direct and widespread benefits.
DID YOU KNOW? South Asians living in the UK are 50% more likely to die prematurely from heart disease compared to the population overall.

Mr Collins also noted that BAPS and BHF already enjoy a close working relationship, citing previous awareness-raising presentations, CPR training sessions, and a successful fundraising campaign through the 2007 National Sponsored Walk.

Also present was Stephen Airey of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the government body set up to protect the public’s health and consumer interests in relation to food. Mr Airey presented some startling facts about the nation’s deteriorating health and the toll this is taking on the national budget.

DID YOU KNOW? 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children are currently overweight or obese. If unchanged, by 2050 those figures could rise to 9/10 for adults and 2/3 for children – costing approximately £50 billion a year!

Already, an estimated 3,500 premature deaths from heart disease each year cost £1 billion.

In response, the FSA has launched the Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme. Mr Airey, head of the programme, explained its main areas of focus and shared some useful tips for the home – such as grating cheese rather than using it as slices in cooking.

Qaim Zaidi, Ethnic Strategy Coordinator for the BHF, also emphasised the importance of the project for people of South Asian origin and working in partnership with active communities like BAPS.

Dr Mayank Shah, head of BAPS’s Health Services in the UK, added: “This is a great opportunity for us to share with the local community a vital message that can not only save lives and impact families, but also potentially save millions of pounds for the government. Working with the BHF and FSA, we hope to provide a supportive environment whereby people can make those all-important lifestyle changes for the better.”

Click on the following links to learn more about the BHF’s South Asian Social Cooking Project and the FSA’s Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme.

For reliable and practical help on healthy eating, visit the government’s eatwell site here.

Disclaimer: BAPS is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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