Regional health agency urges lower salt intake to combat heart diseaseThursday, March 11, 2021
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (CMC) — The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says salt reduction is one of the most cost-effective measures to lower the rate of heart disease and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
In observance of World Salt Awareness Week, observed March 8 to 14, Executive Director at CARPHA, Dr Joy St John said: “The use of excessive sodium in our diets can lead to non-communicable diseases and their risk factors such as hypertension or high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease.”
This year, the Caribbean Public Health Agency said it has joined forces with the regional and international communities to observe World Salt Awareness Week with the slogan: “More Flavour, Less Salt!”
The agency noted that in Latin America and the Caribbean high blood pressure rates are among the highest in the world. It said in Caricom member states the prevalence of high blood pressure/hypertension for adults ranges from 20.9 per cent in Bahamas to 27.1 per cent in St Lucia.
The agency noted further that the Caribbean is well known for its high dietary sodium consumption both in processed foods and as a result of added salt during cooking and at the table. It said the average salt consumption is nine to 12 grams per day, which is twice the recommended amount.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming less than five grams of salt or one teaspoon per adult per day, from all sources, the CARPHA said.
To address this problem of excessive sodium consumption, CARPHA said it developed a Regional Framework for Sodium Reduction in Populations to guide national strategies for the reduction of sodium intake. This framework, it explained, envisions a healthy and vital Caribbean people where their average sodium intake falls below the current global target of five grams per day for adults and even less for children.
The agency added that its own “Kids Can Cook Too” production provides recipes with little or no salt. It said it has also developed a six-point policy package where a major component is the implementation of front of package labelling so consumers can be empowered to make healthful food purchasing choices.
“CARPHA encourages you to use more flavour, but less salt, when cooking. Instead of salt try using fresh herbs and seasonings. Ask for less salt next time you eat at a restaurant. The reduction of salt in processed foods, coupled with mandatory nutrition labelling are part of the dietary considerations that have to be implemented,” the agency said.
“We urge governments and the private sector to create supportive environments to enable lower salt options to be provided, implement front of package labelling to provide easy-to-read-and-understand information for consumers, and reformulate food products to contain less salt,” it added.