Nearly 200 healthcare professionals are calling on the Government to take urgent action to tax junk food, meat and dairy products to improve the health of the nation.

They have come together to sign an open letter urging minsters to introduce new measures in a bid to make people healthier, reducing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and suffering extreme COVID-19 complications.

Consultant Haematologist Dr Shireen Kassam has led the group of doctors and wants the changes to be introduced as soon as possible.

Speaking to the Metro, she said: “This is really urgent, 80 per cent of chronic illnesses are directly related to diet and lifestyle and one-in-five deaths in the UK are caused by unhealthy diets, which is one high in processed foods and animal foods.

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“The NHS is overwhelmed with diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular health diseases. The current pandemic has shown the vulnerability of the population’s health. We have been at crisis point for a long time, probably nearly a decade.

“I have seen no solutions the government is providing. We want to know what the UK is doing to address our unfair, unhealthy and unsustainable food system.”

The letter calls for “rapid, nationwide changes” to be made to the current environment which has “added to the UK’s COVID-19 pandemic death toll”.

It went on to say that the health profession is “willing to take on the task of shifting the NHS focus from a reactive healthcare system to one that promotes health and prevents chronic illness” but it must also be “fully embraced by NHS leaders and the government”.

It has been drafted by Dr Kassam, who founded Plant Based Health Professionals, to coincide with World Nutrition Day on Thursday.

She added: “We want to make some noise and urge those that can to address food injustice. Many people don’t have the choice or access to healthy diets. It’s for a privileged few.”

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