Friday, May 4, 2012

British adults eat over 155 billion grams of salt a year!

UK Charity the Blood Pressure Association today released figures which show that UK adults eat over 425 million grams of salt a day adding up to more than 155 billion grams a year.
That’s the weight of 36,000 African elephants.
Fig.1 shows number of grams of salt eaten each year and each day in UK and home nations

Number of adults (aged 16+) Total grams of salt a year Total grams of salt a day
United Kingdom 49,465,700 155,272,832,300 425,405,020
England 41,436,400 130,068,859,600 356,353,040
Wales 2,423,400 7,607,052,600 20,841,240
Scotland 4,227,100 13,268,866,900 36,353,060
Northern Ireland 1,379,000 4,328,681,000 11,859,400

To help lower this huge figure, UK Charity the Blood Pressure Association has today launched a new campaign urging:
• the government to continue its support for lowering salt intake in the UK by setting new salt reduction targets beyond 2012
• supermarkets and food retailers to stock more low salt products to help the 8 million people in the UK currently being treated for high blood pressure and for them to create a ‘no salt’/ ‘salt trace’ category within their ‘free from’ range
• supermarkets to introduce traffic light labeling for online shopping.
By each reducing our salt intake from the current 8.6 grams per day (Ref 2) to 6 grams an estimated 18,000- 21,000 lives a year could be saved (Ref 3); lives currently lost to the effects of high blood pressure such as stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of the Blood Pressure Association said “This new analysis shows the huge and unnecessary amount of salt we are all eating- 425 million grams of salt a day! This puts up our blood pressure causing strokes, heart attacks and heart failure as well as increasing the risk of kidney disease, stomach cancer and osteoporosis.
“The Government and in particular the Department of Health needs to be much more proactive and set new salt targets for the industry to achieve so that the recommend level of 6 grams or less per day for all adults is achieved by 2015.
The Department of Health also needs to do much more to ensure that patients with high blood pressure- 16 million in the UK, with 8 million on treatment have a much greater choice of foods with far less salt so that they can reduce their salt intake now, to well below the 6 grams a day target for the general population.
“At the same time it is essential that sign post labeling is made compulsory so that the 16 million patients with high blood pressure can easily choose foods with less salt and thereby help to control their own blood pressure.”
We currently each consume around 8.6g of salt every day which adds up to over a massive 3Kg every year, mostly without even realising it.
75% of the salt we eat is already hidden in the foods we buy. Foods like bread, cakes, ready meals and processed meats such as ham are high in salt.
Mark Hooley, Head of Communications of the Blood Pressure Association said “By launching this campaign we hope to help make every day food choices easier for the 8 million adults in the UK being treated for high blood pressure.
“Everyone has a friend or family member with high blood pressure, so it’s important we get the nation behind the campaign to ensure these changes happen.
“By adding a ‘salt trace’/ ‘no salt’ category to their ‘free from’ range, supermarkets will be making it easier for their 8 million customers currently being treated for high blood pressure to find and buy products that will help them to lower their blood pressure.”
The National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that adults should reduce their sale intake to a maximum amount of 6g each day.
The Department of Health was planning to continue implementing reduced salt targets for food manufacturers beyond 2012, but concerns are now being raised that this is no longer the case despite NICE calling for a maximum daily salt intake of 6 grams for each adult by 2015 and 3g by 2025.
Ref 1- Population figures from: Key Population and Vital Statistics, 2007, Office for National Statistics, Series VS No 34, PPI No 30
Ref 2- Salt consumption (8.6 grams) from: “An assessment of dietary sodium levels among adults (aged 16-64) in the UK general population in 2008, based on analysis of dietary sodium in 24 hour urine samples”, National Centre for Social Research, June 2008
Ref 3- How far should salt intake be reduced? Feng J. He and Graham A. Macgregor, Hypertension, November 2003
Ref 4- Weight of African elephants: 2,268 to 6,350 kg= average 4309kg-

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