July 28, 2008

Health Warning As 74per Cent Eat Too Much Salt Reduction Would Save 7000 From Disease


AROUND three-quarters of Britons are still eating too much salt despite average consumption dropping by almost one gram a day.

New research from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows that 74per cent of people are eating more than the healthy target of 6g a day, with those aged between 19 and 24 consuming the highest amount of salt at 10.33g a day.

However, the FSA reported some success yesterday after it emerged that daily salt consumption had, overall, dropped from 9.5g to 8.6g since 2001.

Campaign group Consensus Action on Salt on Health (Cash) yesterday welcomed the reduction, claiming that the British public had removed 19,700 tonnes of salts from its diet in the past seven years.

Cash chairman Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of London, claimed that a 1g daily reduction in salt intake would prevent around 7000 strokes and heart attacks a year due to lowered blood pressure.

He said: "This is the most important news that we have heard about health and eating for a long time.

"As salt intakes will continue to fall over the next few years, the effect of this salt reduction policy on strokes and heart attacks, the commonest cause of death in the UK, will become even larger.

"The reason that the average salt intake is falling is because many, but not all, food manufacturers and retailers, on an entirely voluntary basis, have reduced the amount of salt that they add to their foods.

"The aim must be to get salt intake as low as we can in order to save even more people from dying unnecessarily from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure."

The FSA survey took urine samples from 700 UK residents, selected at random from 45 postcode areas, including some in Scotland, to snapshot the levels of salt consumed .

Results show that 82per cent of men and 65per cent of women consume too much salt.

Following its concerted campaign to reduce the salt content of food on supermarket shelves, the FSA is now working with large- scale catering companies to lower the sodium content of food consumed outside the home, particularly in work canteens where around three million meals are eaten every day.

Two million of these meals are prepared by contract caterers and several of the biggest companies of this type have made commitments to the FSA to reduce salt, sugar and fat content in the foods .

One firm, Brakes, a major supplier of Britain's GBP1bn hotel food industry, claims to have removed more than 100 tonnes of salt from its products since 2002.

Others, such as Sodhexo - which has contracts with school kitchens, meals-onwheels services and the Ministry of Defence - has pledged to use low-salt bread for sandwiches and remove salt from soup and other hot meals.

Alan Marr, managing director of Aulds, the Greenockbased baker and supplier of desserts to supermarkets, said : " We have made very significant salt reductions in a number of products, notably our potato scone and tea breads. You have to always remember that one of the most basic factors of taste is salt. There is a compromise between flavour and what is good for you."

Seasoned facts Food salt content per portion . Cornflakes (30g) with semi-skimmed milk - 0.52g . Blueberry muffin - 1.1g . Chicken salad sandwich (supermarket bought) - 1.6g . Egg and bacon sandwich (cafe bought) - 3.07g . Danish pastry - 0.6g Baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn mayo - 1.35g . Stir fry beef and black bean sauce (homemade) - 2.99g . Bolognaise sauce (homemade) - 1.53g . Parmesan cheese (5g serving) - 0.07g . Takeaway pizza 4.2g . Fruit yoghurt 0.2g

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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