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Salt: Health Hazards

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the scientific basis is for the Food Standards Agency's campaign to reduce hypertension by lowering salt intake; and how much the campaign has cost. (202441)

The Food Standards Agency's campaign to reduce salt intakes is based on advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) which is published in their report, Salt and Health (2003). Copies of this publication are available in the Library. SACN considered a wide range of evidence for the relationship between salt and hypertension and concluded that a reduction in the average population salt intake would proportionally lower population average blood pressure levels and confer significant public health benefits by contributing to a decrease in the burden of cardiovascular disease.

The total cost of the campaign (January 2004 to March 2008) has been £15,227,000. This includes all campaign costs such as advertising, production, research, marketing, public relations, web and partner grants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the health effects of reducing salt intake for (a) those who take strenuous exercise, (b) pregnant women and (c) the elderly; and if he will make a statement. (201863)

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2003 showed that the average intake of salt in the United Kingdom adult population was nine grams per day, more than twice the required daily intake of four grams per day for all adults, set by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy in 1991.

In 2003, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) published its report “Salt and Health”, copies of this report are available in the Library. SACN recommended that the average daily intake of salt by all adults should be reduced to six grams per day. SACN found no evidence to suggest that such a reduction in salt intake would have adverse effects on any particular group in the population including pregnant women and the elderly or those who are exposed to conditions that cause extreme sweating.

Reducing average population salt intake would proportionally lower population average blood pressure levels and confer significant public health benefits by contributing to a reduction in the burden of cardiovascular disease.