Diet and secondary prevention of stroke

  • Scotland’s diet is a major cause of poor health in the country.
  • The Scottish diet is traditionally high in fat, salt and sugar, and low in fruit and vegetables.
  • Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011) outlines the Scottish Government’s strategy to reduce lifestyle risks.
  • The risk of having a second stroke can be reduced by modifying life style factors. It is the interaction between cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking that creates the biggest risk.
  • Diet has an important role in reducing the risk of second strokes and improving the management of hyperlipaemia, diabetes and hypertension.
  • Evidence suggests that high salt content, low fruit and vegetable intake and high alcohol consumption increases the risk of stroke.
  • A fifth of men (20%) and a quarter of women (24%) in Scotland consume the recommended amount of five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Being overweight increases the risk of developing hypertension and diabetes but even a small reduction in weight has significant health benefits; the aim should be to achieve and maintain weight loss of 5-10% or 5-10kgs
  • The success of making and sustaining changes to diet (and other lifestyle factors ) is influenced by many factors including readiness to change, financial issues, food preferences and cultural influences.