Canadians support interventions to reduce dietary salt

Many Canadians are concerned about dietary sodium and welcome government intervention to reduce sodium intake through a variety of measures, including lowering sodium in food, and education and awareness, according to a national survey. The top barriers to limiting sodium intake are a lack of lower sodium packaged and processed foods and lower sodium restaurant menu options.

"Canadians are supportive of to lower ," says lead investigator Mary R. L'Abbe, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of at University of Toronto, noting that most Canadians eat more than the recommended amount of sodium, increasing their risk of developing high blood pressure and other .

To combat high sodium in Canadian diets, a federal government-appointed multi-stakeholder Sodium Working Group developed, "A Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada," a formal set of recommendations that focus on the food supply, education and awareness, and research in order to lower the amount of sodium Canadians eat from an average 3,400 mg per day to 2,300 mg per day by 2016. The group also called for voluntary sodium reductions in the food industry coupled with regular monitoring of progress, which may be enforced through regulation should industry fail to reach targets.

To assess Canadians' concern about sodium, actions, and barriers in limiting sodium consumption, researchers from the University of Toronto and University of Guelph conducted an online survey (http://consumermonitor.ca) with a representative sample of the Canadian population in terms of age, sex, province, and education.

In light of the proposed federal Bill C-460 – legislating the group's recommendations – investigators also sought to determine Canadians' level of support for a number of sodium reduction initiatives.

There was very high support for almost all types of to lower sodium. Eighty percent of respondents would like the food industry to lower the amount of sodium in food. A large number supported setting maximum amounts of sodium in grocery and restaurant foods and for foods served in public settings like schools and hospitals. There was little support for taxation of high sodium foods or subsidizing lower sodium foods.

Among the 2,603 people surveyed, 67 percent were concerned about their sodium intake, especially older individuals and those with .

Approximately half of the respondents were actively limiting their sodium intake. However, many thought they consumed low amounts of sodium because they did not add salt to their food. Others were not limiting their because they had low or normal blood pressure and overall good health, contradicting the literature demonstrating benefits of sodium reduction in individuals with normal blood pressure. Only 16 percent of people knew the recommended intake for sodium (1,500 mg per day), and 12 percent knew the maximum amount that should be consumed (2,300 mg per day).

More information: "Results of a National Survey Examining Canadians' Concern, Actions, Barriers, and Support for Dietary Sodium Reduction Interventions," by JoAnne Arcand, PhD, RD, Julio Mendoza, PhD, Ying Qi, MSc, Spencer Henson, PhD, Wendy Lou, PhD, and Mary R. L'Abbe, PhD, Canadian Journal of Cardiology, Volume 29/Issue 5 (May 2013), DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2013.01.018

Related Stories

Sodium contents of processed foods decoded

date Jan 25, 2010

Sodium is essential for myriad biological processes including fluid balance and muscle contraction. However, too much sodium can have harmful effects such as increasing blood pressure. Consequently, reducing sodium intake ...

Otago research reveals most Kiwis eating too much salt

date Dec 02, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Nearly two-thirds (65%) of adult New Zealanders are consuming more sodium than current nutrition guidelines recommend, according to analysis of urine samples taken from 3000 people who ...

The stealth sodium revolution

date Mar 08, 2012

Researchers with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services have teamed up for HHS's sodium surveillance efforts.

Recommended for you

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

date 1 hour ago

'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

date 2 hours ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

date 5 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

date 5 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

Will the Affordable Care Act eliminate health disparities?

date 7 hours ago

Massachusetts' health reform may be a crystal ball for researchers and policymakers in forecasting the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Many see the ACA as the backbone of efforts toward closing the nation's health ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.