The benefits of population salt reduction
According to the information held up to the level of 2015, the average daily salt intake among adults in Europe was around 10 g per day. Far too much compared to what the specialists recommend. In these conditions, it was proposed an intermediate target for the population to consume a maximum of 5g/day and a more ambitious long-term target of 4g/day.
We propose to review the new scientific evidence regarding the daily salt consumption and the impact on health:
- Salt is causally related to blood pressure (BP): the higher the salt intake, the higher the BP, an effect which can be seen from birth.
- A sustained reduction in salt intake (up to 50% of what we eat now) causes a reduction in the value of TA in almost all the population, although people will responds more or less, depending on factors such as age, ethnicity, baseline BP levels, and body weight.
- High TA contributes to strokes and heart attacks and lowering BP is associated with reducing these risks. The size of the effect is related to the size of the BP reduction. Therefore, it is logical to consider a moderate reduction of salt intake by the population, which will lead to a moderate reduction of BP, a reduction in the incidence of strokes and some reduction of heart attacks, and these data are supported in many studies.
- The World Health Organization currently therefore recommends targets of 5g of salt (2g of sodium) per day with a global target, as part of the global NCD action plan, to achieve a 30% reduction from current consumption by 2025.
- Sodium intakes exceed the recommended levels in almost all countries, so that virtually all populations would benefit from sodium reduction, supported by enhanced surveillance.
- Global actions are underway globally to reduce average population salt consumption.
- Population salt reduction is amongst the most cost-effective public health initiatives for reducing the burden of CVD.
- Population salt reduction programmes are feasible and effective (and are therefore considered ‘preventive’ imperative), cost-saving in all settings (‘economic’ imperative), powerful, rapid and equitable (‘political’ imperative).