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UK salt intake: Consumption falling, but still some way off targets

By Nathan Gray+

21-Jun-2012

The average intake of salt in the UK population has fallen from 9.5 grams per day to 8.1, however consumption is still a long way from the 6 grams a day WHO target, says the UK Department of Health.

The new report, put together by the UK Government agency (found here ) reveals that estimated salt intake for adults aged 19 to 64 years was 8.1g per day in 2011.

The report, which uses urinary sodium excretion to assess salt intake, adds that men had a mean estimated intake of 9.3g per day, whilst women had an average intake of 6.8g per day.

Despite the reductions in intake from previous assessments, 70% of the 547 adults assessed had a daily intake of salt higher than the Wold Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of no more than 6g per day – with 80% of men and 58% of women exceeding the recommendation.

Consensus Actions on Salt and Health (CASH) said the UK now has the lowest salt intake of any developed country in the world.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH welcomed the progress, but noted that there is still “a very long way to go.”

“Our salt intakes have come down thanks to a clear set of voluntary salt targets that were developed by CASH and the Food Standards Agency, which have largely been achieved by the responsible food manufacturers,” said the CASH chairman – who is also a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, UK.

But, he argued that the failure of the Department of Health has failed to set further salt targets for the whole of the food industry has caused delays in salt reduction.

"This is essential for the success of the programme as it provides a ‘level playing field’, whereby all food companies make gradual reductions in line with each other,” said MacGregor.

“The aim must be to get salt intake to below the maximum recommended intake of 6g per day in order to save the maximum number of lives.  This requires the whole food industry to recognise the importance of salt reduction.”

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