Revealed Study finds forcing food companies to reduce salt content could reduce deaths by 4,500

The study found the move would slash cardiac deaths by about 4,500 in the next decade, compared to 1,500 under the current voluntary pledges by manufacturers to cut salt in processed foods.

  • Published:
play (Telegraph)
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New research has shown that tougher compulsory limits on salt in food would save three times as many lives from heart disease.

The study found the move would slash cardiac deaths by about 4,500 in the next decade, compared to 1,500 under the current voluntary pledges by manufacturers to cut salt in processed foods.

They would also be nine times more successful than policies such as improved nutrition labelling and health education, even as the benefit would mainly be among those less financially well off.

Too much salt causes high blood pressure which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and current average intake is around eight grammes per adult per day, two more than the recommended limit.

According to Telegraph UK, researchers at the University of Liverpool compared the effects of voluntary and mandatory salt reduction policies by using a mathematical model that incorporated expert forecasts of future policy implementation, such as the reduction of salt in processed foods.

They then combined these with data from national health surveys and evidence linking salt consumption to the risk of heart disease.

Calculating the benefits if the salt reduction policy is introduced, they estimated that approximately 4,500 cardiac deaths might be postponed or prevented by 2025, with the greatest benefits occurring in the most deprived groups.

But if the food industry was only asked to voluntarily reduce salt levels, by continuing the Public Health Responsibility Deal, then smaller product reformulations would occur and only around 1,500 cardiac deaths might be prevented.

Whereas improved nutrition labelling and health education might avoid only about 500 cardiac deaths.

Furthermore, there would be no additional benefits for deprived consumers who might not buy the products that were reformulated or labelled.

According to Dr Duncan Gillespie, who conducted the research, the study suggests that mandatory targets to reduce the salt hidden in processed foods could substantially reduce heart disease deaths.

Furthermore, the study indicates that the reductions in the unequal distribution of cardiac deaths across levels of deprivation from product reformulation to reduce salt would be greater among adults less than 75 years of age, where inequalities are currently widest.

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