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Salt

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effects on blood pressure of sodium intake; whether his Department has made an estimate of the number of people in England with blood pressure problems whose condition would be alleviated by changes in the amount of salt in their diet; and if he will make a statement. (207431)

The relationship between sodium and blood pressure was considered by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) in 1994. COMA concluded that a reduction in salt intake would reduce the average blood pressure of the population. In 2001, the Food Standards Agency asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) to review the evidence since the COMA report. SACN considered a wide range of evidence for the relationship between salt and hypertension which is detailed on their report, ‘Salt and Health’ (2003). Copies of this report are available in the Library. SACN concluded that a reduction in the average population salt intakes 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 Government have not estimated the number of people in England with hypertension whose condition would be alleviated by changes in the amount of salt in their diet.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the evidential basis was for the recommendation that the national guideline for dietary salt intake to be set at six grams a day. (207432)

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 Report 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 to six grams per day 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has made an estimate of (a) the number of lives to be saved annually and (b) other effects on health arising from reducing dietary salt intake to within the Government's guideline amount of six grams a day. (207433)

The number of lives saved annually by reducing average population intakes of salt to six grams has been estimated by the Food Standards Agency to be around 20,200. While the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition considered the effects of salt intake on other health outcomes, the effects on these of reducing salt intakes to six grams have not been estimated.