September 22, 2011

Salt – Blood Pressure Debate Goes On

When scientists have an agenda, we get more conflicting views than scientific evidence. The salt-blood pressure message is one of the more hotly debated issues lately. One group says that reducing salt consumption would have no clear health effect and another group shows that the meta-analysis was faulty and proves it reasonably. Read the discussion here and read it carefully.

This is a good example of what bad science can do and how it misled people around the world with false headlines. At least others are continuing the debate and continue to encourage people to reduce salt intake.

Of course the salt industry body, the Salt Institute, does not agree and a vice president , Morton Satin plainly states, “this compulsion to regulate is being pushed by a gaggle of activist ideologues who have long ago abandoned science to take up the salt-bashing cudgel.” The Salt Institute is probably the group that has funded some of the worst science studies.

The World Health Organization has set a global goal to reduce dietary salt intake to less than 5g per person by 2025. The problem is not whether to reduce salt intake, but how to do it effectively. The problem is not the salt people add to food they cook, it is the salt that food processors add to food before it is sold and this is becoming a global trend.

They believe a four-point program is required and form the basis of a comprehensive policy. The first point would be establishing and evaluating a public awareness campaign for communication of the problem. Next would come a progressive salt targets for reformulating existing processed foods and engaging with the food industry in setting new standards for foods. This would be followed by surveying the population for salt intake, measuring the progress of reformulation and effectiveness of communications. Finally, engagement of the food industry, to include regulation to create a level playing field to not disadvantage the more enlightened and progressive companies.

The largest factor is the responsibilities of the food manufacturing industry to contribute to the process. To avoid future illness and expenses, everyone needs to participate to include industry, society, governments, academia, and health organizations. Denial and procrastination will only add cost to the outcome.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, UK researchers say that the United Nations needs to make reducing salt intake a global health priority. The also advocate that if voluntary measures do not work, nations should compel the food industry to cut salt levels in manufactured foods.

There are five articles related to this issue and I have listed one near the top and the other four are here for your information: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, and Article 4.

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