SY 09-4 PUBLIC POLICIES TO REDUCE SALT IN PROCESSED FOODS: HOW THEY MAY CORRELATE WITH IMPROVEMENT IN BLOOD PRESSURE CONTROL AND REDUCED CARDIOVASCULAR MORTALITY

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Abstract

Hypertension is the second leading global risk for death and disability after unhealthy diets. Amongst dietary risks, excess dietary salt (sodium) is the leading risk. As dietary sodium increases, blood pressure increases linearly. In meta-analyses of higher quality cohort studies and in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, higher dietary sodium is linearly associated with increased cardiovascular disease. There are an estimated xxxx deaths and xxx DALYs in 2013 from excess dietary sodium. The World Health Organization has a recommended sodium (salt) intake of less than 2000 mg (5 g)/day with the World Health Assembly setting a voluntary target of a 30% reduction by 2025. In high income countries, the vast majority of dietary salt comes from additives during commercial food processing. In low income countries the vast majority of salt is ‘discretionary’ being added at home in cooking and at the table, often as condiments (e.g. soya/fish sauce or bouillon). Many highly populated countries are in nutritional transition and have the highest salt intakes with both commercial and discretionary sources. Notably diets of natural foods without added salt contain 500–800 mg sodium/day. Policies to reduce commercial sources of salt have had demonstrated efficacy at reducing salt intake, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Use of salt replacers (potassium partly replacing sodium) hold promise to reduce discretionary salt and in randomized controlled trials reduce blood pressure. There is renewed ‘scientific’ controversy about reducing dietary salt. The controversy is largely based on a small number of individuals many of whom have had associations with the food and salt industry and/or have conducted research using methods highly prone to erroneous findings. Sadly several of those dissenting have made false or misleading statements about the science supporting salt reduction, altered scientific formula to make their controversial data appear more robust, misrepresented the utility of assessing salt intake by single spot urines and the science supporting sodium reduction, made data entry errors and made multiple erratum in publications. Reducing dietary salt is estimated to be one the most effective interventions to improve population health.

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