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Health spending to double by 2061, A&Es that don't share crime data and the latest fad diet? Divorce.

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 31 January

A good day for vegetarians, as the Telegraph reports that they are a third less likely to develop heart disease than meat or fish eaters.

A study found the lower levels of harmful cholesterol and blood pressure in vegetarians, due to lack of fatty foods in their diet, with other factors like body weight making little difference.

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study followed 45,000 volunteers, a third of whom were vegetarian, for more than 11 years.

They answered questions about their health and lifestyle when they were recruited in the 1990s, and almost half had tests to measure their blood pressure and cholesterol.

By the time the study finished in 2009, 6.8% of patients aged 50 to 70 years those who included meat or fish in their diet were admitted to hospital or died from heart disease, compared with 4.6 per cent of vegetarians in the same age group.

Dr Francesca Crowe of Oxford University, who led the study with her colleague Prof Tim Key, said that above all the findings emphasise the importance of a healthy diet.

She said: ‘Obviously a vegetarian diet is one way to have a low intake of saturated fat, but the main message here is that diet is a very important determinant of heart disease risk.’

Over at the BBC we find news of a failed coalition pledge to make hospitals share violent crime data.

In 2010 the coalition pledged that one-third of A&E departments would share non-confidential information about where knife or gun attacks were happening with the local council, in order to identify crime hotspots.

But a DH audit has found that this is only happening effectively in a fifth of areas, and the Government has now written to hospitals and chief constables for an explanation.

Susannah Hancock, assistant chief executive of charity Victim Support, said it was disappointing that the plan had not been implemented.

She said: ‘The NHS is the second most likely public service after the police to come into contact with victims of violent crime, many of whom will not have reported such incidents to the police at all.’

The Guardian reports on a King’s Fund report which predicts that health and social care spending could account for half of Government’s spending  in 50 years time.

The report said the UK spends around 9% of its national income on health and social care, more than twice as much as 50 years ago.

According to forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility, this could more than double again to nearly 20% by 2061 and based on projections for economic growth and current levels of taxation and government expenditure, the King’s fund’s chief economist John Appleby estimates that this would translate to around 50% of public spending.

He said borrowing to fund the health service at this price would be ‘unrealistic in the short to medium term and would be unsustainable in the longer term.’

And lastly, could divorce be the latest fad diet? Scientists have proved that matrimonial bliss wreaks havoc with your waistline, the Daily Mail reports.

The happier you are in your marriage, the more likely you are to put on the pounds, found an American study which followed 169 newly wedded couples over four years.

During this period they measured their weight and asked them how satisfied they were in their relationship eight times.

Happier couples gained more weight than those in less happy unions, with researchers speculating that this could be because those in unhappy relationships were contemplating finding a new partner and so took steps to manage their weight.

Lead researcher Andrea Meltzer, said: ‘For each unit of increase in satisfaction found, either by the person or the partner, a 0.12 increase in BMI occurred every six months, on average.’

The findings held even after compensating for factors such as pregnancy, she added.

Ohio State University researcher Dmitry Tumin said: ‘Clearly, the effect of marital transitions on weight changes differs  by gender.’  

‘Divorces for men, and to some extent, marriages for women, promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk.’

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