Taking high amounts of salt (sodium chloride)
affects a person’s well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a
daily salt intake of fewer than 5 grams (one tablespoon) per day . The precise quantity
is 2 grams. High sodium intake has been linked to cardiovascular diseases.
Currently, the global average salt intake is estimated to be 10.8 grams per day
according to the WHO, which is much more than the recommended amount. The WHO
has a global target of lowering sodium intake by 30% by 2024.
Effects of taking too much salt
Taking sodium in excess amounts increases the
risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death according to the WHO. Table
salt contains sodium, which can also be found in processed foods.
Responding to a WHO global report on sodium
intake reduction, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus said “Unhealthy diets
are a leading cause of death and disease globally, and excessive sodium intake
is one of the main culprits.”
He added that most countries are yet to adopt
any mandatory sodium reduction regulations, leaving people at risk of stroke,
heart disease, and other health conditions. The director general urged
countries to adopt and implement mandatory sodium reduction policies that meet
the WHO Global Sodium Benchmarks. Food manufacturers are also urged to set
ambitious sodium reduction targets in their products.
Importance of governments having sodium
The WHO explain that having sodium reduction
policies could save approximately 7 million lives globally by 2030. It is an
important aspect in helping achieve the sustainable development goal of
lowering deaths from non-communicable diseases.
Today, only nine countries have
comprehensive policies to lower sodium intake. They include Brazil, Malaysia,
Chile, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay, and Saudi Arabia.
According to WHO, a comprehensive approach to
reducing sodium intake includes the following measures.
· Reformulating foods to contain less salt, and
setting targets for the sodium amounts in foods and meals.
· Establishing public food procurement policies to
limit salt or sodium-rich foods in public institutions such as schools,
workplaces, hospitals, and nursing homes.
· Front-of-package labeling that helps consumers
sect products with lower sodium amounts.
· Behaviour change communication and mass media
campaigns to reduce salt/sodium consumption.
Taking lower amounts of salt could help reduce
the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Governments and food manufacturers should
work towards lowering sodium intake through policies and checking sodium levels