Public Health Nutrition

Public Policies

Reducing the population's sodium intake: the UK Food Standards Agency's salt reduction programme

Laura A Wynessa1, Judith L Butrissa1 and Sara A Stannera1 c1

a1 British Nutrition Foundation, 52-54 High Holborn, London WC1V 6RQ, UK

Abstract

Objective To describe the UK Food Standards Agency's (FSA) salt reduction programme undertaken between 2003 and 2010 and to discuss its effectiveness.

Design Relevant scientific papers, campaign materials and evaluations and consultation responses to the FSA's salt reduction programme were used.

Setting Adult salt intakes, monitored using urinary Na data collected from UK-wide surveys, indicate a statistically significant reduction in the population's average salt intake from 9·5 g/d in 2000–2001 to 8·6 g/d in 2008, which is likely to have health benefits.

Subjects Reducing salt intake will have an impact on blood pressure; an estimated 6 % of deaths from CHD in the UK can be avoided if the number of people with high blood pressure is reduced by 50 %.

Results Salt levels in food, monitored using commercial label data and information collected through an industry self-reporting framework, indicated that substantial reductions of up to 70 % in some foods had been achieved. The FSA's consumer campaign evaluation showed increased awareness of the benefits of reducing salt intake on health, with 43 % of adults in 2009 claiming to have made a special effort to reduce salt in their diet compared with 34 % of adults in 2004, before the campaign commenced.

Conclusions The UK's salt reduction programme successfully reduced the average salt intake of the population and increased consumers’ awareness. Significant challenges remain in achieving the population average salt intake of 6 g/d recommended by the UK's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. However, the UK has demonstrated the success of its programme and this approach is now being implemented elsewhere in the world.

(Received October 20 2010)

(Accepted March 24 2011)

(Online publication June 23 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email s.stanner@nutrition.org.uk

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