Action on Salt has published studies stating that they provide new and strong evidence to support salt reduction as a key public health strategy to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease in the UK and worldwide.
Based on the studies, the campaign team wants to make mandatory the new voluntary salt reduction targets currently under consultation by Public Health England, which it plans to publish later this year.
The analysis included 133 randomized trials with 12,197 individuals who examined the effect of salt reduction on blood pressure and showed that salt reduction lowered blood pressure in the whole population, including those with blood pressure within normal ranges . Also, the greater the reduction in salt intake, the greater the drop in blood pressure.
This study, according to the authors, also showed that older people, who have higher blood pressure or of black ethnicity, had an even greater drop in blood pressure for a given reduction in salt intake, with reductions in long term which probably have a greater effect.
The Salt action states that these findings are important as they indicate that a population-level reduction in salt intake should lower the population’s blood pressure which in itself will cause a large reduction in stroke and heart disease and, at the same time over time, it is likely to prevent people from developing high blood pressure as they get older.
A second review by researchers from the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London and Action on Salt and recently published in the JACC (Journal of the American College of Cardiology) (18 February 2020) entitled “Salt reduction to prevent hypertension and disease Cardiovascular: JACC’s state-of-the-art review has reviewed nearly 200 published studies, which found that high salt intake is the main cause of increased blood pressure, which in itself is the leading cause of stroke and heart disease, major causes of death and disability in the UK Too much salt is also closely linked to osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.
“Setting goals without application won’t work”
In 2016 Public Health England assumed responsibility for salt reduction in the United Kingdom and on February 6, 2020 announced a new series of voluntary salt target projects. However, setting targets without application is unlikely to work, said Action on Salt, as demonstrated by the failed liability agreement and the lack of progress made by the food industry on the previous set of targets.
It wants to implement a clear and transparent monitoring program that includes annual progress reports and a strong commitment with the whole sector, together with success cases on reformulation to help industrial reformulation.
Professor Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Barts and London Hospital and Queen Mary University of London, president of Action on Salt and co-author of the review, said: “Salt reduction has been identified as one of the most convenient strategies for reducing stroke and heart disease. From 2005 to 2011, the UK led the world with an effective and consistent salt reduction policy, causing the food industry to slowly reduce the huge and unnecessary amount of salt they add to our food.
“This has resulted in a reduction in salt intake in the population and a drop in the population’s blood pressure, with significant reductions in stroke and deaths from heart disease. Since 2011, the government has failed to continue this policy and the new government must now force the food industry to start making further reductions in the amount of salt they add to our food, with laws or financial penalties for those who do not respect it. “
Action on Salt also required more engagement with the Out of Home sector and an independent nutrition agency modeled on the previous FSA.
Professor Feng He, lead author of the journal and researcher at Queen Mary University of London, said: “All the evidence in the JACC review and the latter BMJ research shows that reducing our salt intake will be immensely beneficial. Salt reduction efforts should be strengthened in the UK and worldwide to save millions of suffering people each year. and unnecessarily die of stroke and heart disease. “