The world is “off-track” to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025, a World Health Organization (WHO) report has found.
The report stated that an estimated 7 million lives could be saved by 2030 through the implementation of cost-effective sodium reduction policies.
The 30% global target aims to support the United Nations’ ‘Sustainable Development Goal’ of reducing deaths from noncommunicable diseases. However, WHO says that only nine countries – Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Uruguay – currently have a comprehensive package of recommended policies to reduce sodium intake in place.
“Unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disease globally, and excessive sodium intake is one of the main culprits,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.
He continued: “This report shows that most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke and other health problems”.
In order to reduce sodium intake, WHO recommends adopting mandatory policies and interventions, including: reformulating foods to contain less salt and setting targets for the amount of sodium in products and meals; limiting sodium-rich foods in public institutions; and establishing clearer packaging to help consumers to select products containing less sodium.
As part of the report, WHO developed a country scorecard for member states based on the type and number of sodium reduction policies they have in place.
Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, commented: “This important report demonstrates that countries must work urgently to implement ambitious, mandatory, government-led sodium reduction policies to meet the global target of reducing salt consumption by 2025”.
He added: “There are proven measures that governments can implement and important innovations, such as low-sodium salts. The world needs action, and now, or many more people will experience disabling or deadly – but preventable – heart attacks and strokes.”
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