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‘Cut Back Global Salt Intake’: Why WHO's Warning Is Important?

The WHO has warned that 7 million people could die before 2030 due to excess consumption of salt.

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Seven million people.

That’s how many people the World Health Organization has warned could die before 2030 due to excess consumption of salt.

In a report published on Thursday, 9 March, titled Global Report on Sodium Intake Reduction, the WHO said that “the world is off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30 percent by 2025.”

Here’s all you need to know about the report.

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Why Should You Care?

“Excessive sodium intake is the top risk factor for an unhealthy diet, and it is responsible for 1.8 million deaths each year.”
Francesco Branca, Director, WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development to Washington Post

The WHO recommends only consuming about 5 grams (or a teaspoon) of salt a day. But most people consume about 10.8 grams.

Over 70 percent of salt consumed by Americans is through packaged foods.
Food and Drug Administration

Health Impacts Of Excess Salt Consumption: Sodium makes up about 40 percent of salt. It is known to “narrow and stiffen blood vessels” and can cause:

  • Strokes

  • Cardiovascular diseases

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart failure

  • Premature Death

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What Have Authorities Done So Far? The WHO had initiated a programme in 2013 to cut down global salt intake levels by 30 percent by the year 2025.

However, when the institution reviewed this programme, it found that only nine countries out of 194 had been working towards reducing excessive salt consumption in their populations. 
“This report shows that most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. WHO calls on all countries to implement the ‘Best Buys’ for sodium reduction, and on manufacturers to implement the WHO benchmarks for sodium content in food.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

What Next? The study wants:

  • Governments to impose stricter salt and sodium limits on packaged food and make the public aware of the health risks of excess salt consumption.

  • Mandate salt content levels for manufacturers of food products globally.

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