Interested in developing a national programme to reduce dietary salt?

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Abstract

High dietary salt is a major contributor to increased blood pressure, the leading risk for death worldwide. In several countries, national programmes to reduce dietary salt have been implemented with leadership and involvement of hypertension experts. Other hypertension experts may be interested in assisting or leading a national programme to reduce dietary salt, however, may not have the experience or training to do so. The article is based on the experiences of three hypertension experts who have led the development of national dietary salt reduction programmes in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The article advises developing leadership and a coalition, conducting a nation-specific environmental scan of facilitators and barriers, estimating the national health and financial costs of high dietary salt and the benefits of reducing salt intake, obtaining core documents to provide the scientific rational for the programme, developing a policy statement to outline the required actions to be undertaken, engaging government and industry, using media to gain public support, overcoming industry supported opposition and sustaining the effort long term. Resources and potential sources for international collaboration are provided as well as caveats for developing the programme within the specific nations' context and overall effort to improve health. Developing and leading a national salt reduction programme is a major commitment, however, reducing dietary salt is estimated to be one of the most effective strategies to improve a nation's health.

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