Reducing salt consumption, it is possible

Excessive salt consumption such as we have in the West is a recognized risk factor for the occurrence of high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Strongly invited to act by the WHO, some governments and food manufacturers have gotten into it, the results can be there when everyone does, confirms a major study.

In France, in 2016, despite numerous recommendations, salt consumption remains too high and this excess is expensive. A meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Library review, however, shows that in some countries, when population-wide education initiatives are carried out, salt consumption drops. And it works even better when “the whole chain of stakeholders”, from manufacturers for the reformulation of food products, to the consumer is involved.

For the record, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum consumption of 5 g of salt per day or 2 g of sodium. Indeed, dietary intakes that are too high in salt (or sodium) have been largely associated with cardiovascular risk. A recent American study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, suggested that even the levels of sodium intake recommended by health agencies are already harmful to health.

In France we consume on average 10 g of salt per day.

The study, a compilation of large-scale studies conducted by experts from the Cochrane Public Health Group, reveals that if information messages are well addressed to the population and if manufacturers lower the salt content of food products, the amount of salt absorbed naturally decreases.

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15 national initiatives reaching 226,000 participants

In this study, the experts sought to assess the impact of population-based interventions for the reduction of dietary sodium by compiling the most significant studies published on the subject. The analysis of the impact of the initiatives is based on estimates of sodium consumption based on data from food surveys or analyzes of urine samples. All estimates were converted to a single measure, salt intake in grams per day.

After examining 881 studies, the authors select 15 national initiatives involving a total of 260,000 participants, sufficiently qualified to allow a quantitative analysis of the impact:

– 5 studies confirm decreases in average daily salt consumption per person ranging from 1.15 grams/day (Finland) to 0.35 grams/day (Ireland),

– 2 initiatives show, on the contrary, an increase in salt consumption (Canada (1.66) and Switzerland (0.80 grams/day more per person)).

– 7 of the 10 initiatives integrated several stages of food production, distribution (schools, colleges) and food consumption. Among these 7 initiatives, 4 allow a statistically significant average reduction in salt consumption.

It works better when everyone gets involved

According to experts, interventions on the general population in favor of the reduction of dietary sodium have the potential to lead to reductions in consumption at the scale of the population on one condition: to integrate all the stages and the actors concerned in the chain. food.


Cochrane Library 16 September 2016 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010166.pub2 Population-level interventions in government jurisdictions for dietary sodium reduction


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