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Salt reduction meeting in Calgary

Health advocates and representatives of the food industry are gathering this week in Calgary, Canada, to discuss ways of reducing dietary salt consumption to help prevent high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. 

Health advocates and representatives of the food industry are gathering this week in Calgary, Canada, to discuss ways of reducing dietary salt consumption to help prevent high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. 

On Monday, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, the food industry, and public health agencies met to discuss ways to support target-setting for salt consumption at the population level and monitoring of consumption levels. On Tuesday and Wednesday, members of a PAHO Expert Group are meeting to examine related technical issues, including:

1)      Establishing a baseline of salt intake at the population level

2)      Monitoring changes from the baseline

3)      Determining the main dietary sources of salt

4)      Identifying and measuring knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to salt and health.

Salt consumption is a health concern in countries throughout the Americas, as scientific evidence shows that excessive salt consumption is the main cause of elevated blood pressure, a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In addition, there is growing evidence that high salt intake is related to obesity and associated diseases including diabetes, some cancers, asthma, kidney failure and osteoporosis.

Reducing salt intake benefits both people with hypertension and those with normal blood pressure. Reducing salt consumption by younger people would likely help prevent future age-related rises in blood pressure, which are now seen almost universally. 

Lowering blood pressure through population-level reductions in salt consumption is highly cost effective. A strategy that combines mass-media awareness campaigns with regulation of salt content in food products would prevent an estimated 8.5 million deaths worldwide at a cost of between $0.04 and $0.32 cents per person per year. 

To reach the widest audience with limited resources, experts say, countries should include messages on reduced salt consumption in existing healthy-eating and healthy-living programs, including infant and child nutrition programs, campaigns against obesity, and initiatives that promote fruit and vegetable consumption. 

More information on PAHO/WHO’s salt reduction initiative can be found at:

 
PAHO Campaigns
Publications portal

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Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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