Would you believe it if we told you that salt reduction can help prevent nearly 200,000 cases of heart disease in a country alone? What if it could also save £1.64bn?
At first, the above questions might seem like a joke. However, it is a harsh reality. England’s salt reduction program is on course to achieve both the above targets. Research at the Queen Mary University of London suggests that the country will be able to achieve the target by the end of 2050.
Excess intake of salt is strongly linked with raised blood pressure and increased risks of cardiovascular disease. Besides, it can also lead to gastric cancer, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. High blood pressure is held responsible for more than 50 percent of ischemic heart disease and 60 percent of strokes.
The Food Standards Agency, in collaboration with the food industry, established salt reduction targets in more than 85 food categories between 2003 and 2010. As a result, average salt intake at the population-level reduced by 15 percent from 2000 to 2011, mostly due to food companies reformulating their products.
The new survey gathered their data from the 2000-2018 population survey salt intake and disease burden to project the impact of the salt reduction program. The findings are as follows –
- The overall salt intake reduction was 1 gram/day per adult, from 9.38 grams per day in 2000 to 8.38 grams per day in 2018.
- If the salt intake levels of 2018 are maintained throughout the country, the program will lead to 193,870 fewer adults developing premature cardiovascular disease by the end of 2050. Moreover, it will also result in £1.64bn of savings as healthcare cost for the adult population.
- WHO recommends a salt intake of 5 grams/day per adult. If this target is achieved by the end of 2030, a further 213,880 premature cardiovascular disease can be kept at bay, with the healthcare savings going up to £5.33bn.