A PAHO-convened group of independent experts on salt and health has produced this policy statement. It has the rationale and recommendations for a population-based approach to reduce dietary salt intake among all people in the Americas.
The Policy Statement is the first product of the 2009-2011 EG for the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention through Dietary Salt Reduction. It seeks a gradual and sustained drop in dietary salt intake to reach national targets or the internationally recommended target of less than 5g/day/person by 2020.
The policy statement is directed towards policy and decision makers in government, leaders in non-governmental organizations (representing consumers, health, scientific and health care professionals), civil society, the food industry (including food processors and distributors), among food importers and exporters, and in PAHO.
Recommendations for Policy and Action
The recommendations of the Policy Statement are consistent with the World Health Organization's three pillars for successful dietary salt reduction: product reformulation; consumer awareness and education campaigns; and environmental changes to make healthy choices the easiest and most affordable options for all people.
Why a Policy Statement?
Governments are justified in taking a population-based approach to reduce salt intake because salt additives in food are so common. People are unaware of how much salt they are eating in different foods and of the adverse effects on their health. Children are especially vulnerable.
Lowering blood pressure through population-wide salt intake reduction is cost effective. (1,2) A strategy that combines mass-media awareness campaigns with regulation of the salt content of food products has been estimated to cost between $0.04 and $0.32 US per person per year. Over 10 years, the strategy is predicted to avert 8.5 million deaths world-wide, mostly from CVD. (1)
The savings to healthcare budgets can be dramatic. Researchers in the UK estimate that achieving dietary salt intake of less than 6g/day could potentially reduce the need for anti-hypertensive drugs by as much as 30%. (3) Already, a 10% reduction in salt intake in the UK since 2000-01, attributed to the combined gradual and sustained efforts of industry lowering the salt in certain food products and to the Food Standards Agency's information campaign, has yielded an annual cost saving benefit of £1.5 billion. (4)
Photos of the Launch in Chile at the Latin American Society for Nutrition (Sociedad Latinoamericana de Nutrición / SLAN) (November 2009)
1 Asaria P, Chisholm D, Mathers C, Ezzati M, Beaglehole R. Chronic disease prevention: health effects and financial costs of strategies to reduce salt intake and control tobacco use. Lancet. 2007;370:2044—53.
2 Murray CJ, Lauer JA, Hutubessy RC, Niessen L, Tomijima N, Rodgers A, Lawes CM, Evans DB. Effectiveness and costs of interventions to lower systolic blood pressure and cholesterol: a global and regional analysis on reduction of cardiovascular disease risk. Lancet. 2003;361:717-25.
3 Walker J, MacKenzie AD, Dunning J. Does reducing your salt intake make you live longer? Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2007;6:793-98.
4Food Standards Agency (UK). Agency publishes 2012 salt reduction targets. Monday 18 May 2009. Available at: http://www.food.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/2009/may/salttargets. Accessed September 22, 2009.
This is a list of international, regional and sub regional organizations that have endorsed the Policy Statement and its recommendations.
- International Diabetes Federation
- International Federation of Kidney Foundations
- World Heart League
- InterAmerican Heart Foundation
- Blood Pressure Canada
- Canadian Stroke Network
- Canadian Diabetes Association
- Canadian Heart Failure Network
- Canadian Hypertension Society
- Canadian Medical Association
- Canadian Public Health Association
- American Heart Association
- Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos de Costa Rica
- AADYND (Associacion Argentina de Dietistas y Nutricionistas Dietistas
- Asociación Solidaria de Insuficientes Renales
- Sociedad Argentina de Nutrición
- IDEC Defesa de Consumidor
- PROTESTE- Associação Brasileira de Defesa do Consumidor
- Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina de Familia e Comunidade
- Sociedad Chilena de Hipertension
- Ministerio de Salud de Chile
- Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Cardiología
- Ministry of Health Suriname
- Ministerio de salud Venezuela
- Caribbean Cardiac Society
- Healthy Caribbean Coalition
- Heart Foundation of Jamaica