Salt Reduction Saves Lives: WHO

The World Health Organization was calling on Vietnam to take action on the overuse of salt by implementing WHO’s sodium reduction measures to cut the number of people experiencing heart disease and stroke and save lives on the World Heart Day (September 29).

The main source of sodium in our diet is salt. It can come from sodium glutamate, used as a condiment in many parts of the world. Although research on salt consumption in Viet Nam is limited, preliminary findings show the average salt consumption in Viet Nam ranges from 12 to 15 grams per person per day.

Many people aged 26-64 have a salt intake higher than WHO’s recommended salt intake of less than 5 grams per person per day (or one teaspoon). Nearly 60 percent has a salt intake twice as high as the recommend daily salt intake.

WHO is supporting Vietnam in implementing WHO’s global action plan to reduce burden of non-communicable diseases which includes nine global targets. Target four aims to reduce global salt intake by a relative 30  percent by 2025.

WHO recommends that children aged 2 to 15 years consume even less salt than the recommended less than 5 grams per day adjusted for their energy requirements for growth.

According to the study of the National Institute of Nutrition, the daily sodium intake in Viet Nam comes mainly from condiments added during food preparation, cooking and additional seasoning at the table (81  percent), from processed foods (11.6  percent) and from natural foods (7.4 percent).

Seasoning and fish sauce are the main sources of sodium intake on a daily basis (35.1 percent and 31.6 percent respectively). MSG and salt are also considerable sources (7.5 percent and 6.1 percent respectively). In processed food, instant noodles are a main source of sodium (7.5 percent). Salted vegetables contributed to 1.4 percent of daily sodium intake.

In 2015, Vietnam plans to include salt consumption in WHO’s NCD risk factors survey (STEPS) to improve data collection on salt consumption. 

Consuming too much salt can lead (or contribute) to hypertension, or high blood pressure, and greatly increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. According to a national survey, the prevalence of hypertension in adults in Vietnam aged 25 and older is 25.1  percent. WHO estimates that cardiovascular diseases are leading killer in Vietnam, responsible for 33  percent of total deaths.

Individuals and families can reduce their salt intake through a number of very simple measures:
• Removing fish sauce, soy sauce and salt from dining tables
• Limiting the amount of salt and fish sauce added in cooking to a total maximum amount of a fifth of a teaspoon over the course of a day
• Limiting frequent consumption of high salt products such as crisps
• Asking for products with less salt when buying prepared food
• Reading food labels when buying processed food to check salt levels
• Guiding children’s taste buds through a diet of mostly unprocessed foods without adding salt.

Compile by Uyen Phuong

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