Salt-reduction program helps rural China decrease sodium intake

November 19, 2013

People in rural northern China reduced their salt intake after participating in a community-based sodium reduction program and having access to salt substitutes, researchers reported in a late-breaking clinical trial at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.

"We identified a low-cost, practical intervention that was effective in reducing sodium intake," said Nicole Li, Ph.D., study author and research fellow at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia. "The World Health Organization and other groups have identified population-based approaches to reduction as among the most cost-effective possible strategies for vascular disease prevention in both developed and developing countries."

Researchers with the China Rural Health Initiative - Sodium Reduction Study assessed 120 in which the average sodium consumption is 4.7 to 5.9 grams per day—far more than the World Health Organization's recommended 2 grams per day maximum. Americans eat an average of 3.4 grams per day.

Sixty villages receive no intervention and continued with their usual practices.

Citizens of the remaining villages received community health education advising lower sodium intake, with special messages for residents at high risk of heart disease. In addition, a potassium-containing, reduced sodium salt substitute was promoted through a health education program and in village convenience stores. These 60 villages were further divided at random with 30 receiving a price subsidy for the salt substitute, and 30 getting the substitute at full price, which is about twice that of regular salt.

After 18 months, researchers examined 24-hour urine samples of 20 people from each village for sodium and potassium intake.

Those in villages who received the intervention:

  • Reduced daily sodium intake by 13 mmol (millimoles) compared with non-intervention villages. Seventeen mmol equals about 1 gram of salt.
  • Decreased daily sodium by 17 mmol in villages with price-subsidized salt substitutes.
  • Increased daily potassium intake by 7 mmol on average across all villages with the intervention.
  • Increased daily potassium intake by 9 mmol in villages with price-subsidized salt substitutes.

"The study findings could be applied in similar settings around the world in which salt added during food preparation at home comprises a significant proportion of daily sodium intake," Li said.

The researchers are conducting a larger, five-year study in the same region to determine whether this sodium-reduction intervention impacts incidence of and stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends a diet with less than 1,500 mg (1.5 g) of per day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that if Americans cut their average to the recommended amount, high blood pressure rates would decrease nearly 26 percent and healthcare costs would drop by more than $26 billion in a year, the association said.

Explore further: Adults worldwide eat almost double daily AHA recommended amount of sodium

Related Stories

Adults worldwide eat almost double daily AHA recommended amount of sodium

March 21, 2013
Seventy-five percent of the world's population consumes nearly twice the daily recommended amount of sodium (salt), according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism ...

Lowering salt intake improves heart and kidney health of chronic kidney disease patients

November 7, 2013
Reducing salt intake provides clear benefits for the heart and kidney health of patients with chronic kidney disease, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology ...

Reducing salt and increasing potassium will have major global health benefits

April 4, 2013
Cutting down on salt and, at the same time, increasing levels of potassium in our diet will have major health and cost benefits across the world, according to studies published in BMJ today.

New study calls sodium intake guidelines into question

November 22, 2011
For years doctors have warned that too much salt is bad for your heart. Now a new McMaster University study suggests that both high and low levels of salt intake may put people with heart disease or diabetes at increased ...

America: Time to shake the salt habit?

March 28, 2013
The love affair between U.S. residents and salt is making us sick: high sodium intake increases blood pressure, and leads to higher rates of heart attack and strokes. Nonetheless, Americans continue to ingest far higher amounts ...

Canadians support interventions to reduce dietary salt

March 13, 2013
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 ...

Recommended for you

Metabolism switch signals end for healing hearts

September 19, 2017
Researchers have identified the process that shuts down the human heart's ability to heal itself, and are now searching for a drug to reverse it.

Beta blockers not needed after heart attack if other medications taken

September 18, 2017
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds beta blockers are not needed after a heart attack if heart-attack survivors are taking ACE inhibitors and statins. The study is the first to challenge ...

Which single behavior best prevents high blood pressure?

September 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—You probably already know that certain healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, but is any one behavior more important than the others?

RESPECT trial shows closing a small hole in heart may protect against recurrent stroke

September 13, 2017
A device used to close a small hole in the heart may benefit certain stroke patients by providing an extra layer of protection for those facing years of ongoing stroke risk, according to the results of a large clinical trial ...

Study shows so-called 'healthy obesity' is harmful to cardiovascular health

September 11, 2017
Clinicians are being warned not to ignore the increased cardiovascular health risks of those who are classed as either 'healthy obese' or deemed to be 'normal weight' but have metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes.

Statins reduce deaths from heart disease by 28 percent in men with high LDL levels, says longest ever study

September 6, 2017
Previous research has shown the benefit of statins for reducing high cholesterol and heart disease risk amongst different patient populations. However, until now there has been no conclusive evidence from trials for current ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

msatin
not rated yet Nov 20, 2013
Interesting results after an 18 month intensive campaign. Villagers dropped their salt consumption from an average of 13.8 grams/day (equivalent to the average of 4.7 to 5.9 grams per day sodium) by 13 mmol sodium, the equivalent of 0.8 grams salt. In other words from 13.8 grams salt to 13 g salt. Two questions remain. Will villagers continue to consume salt at 13 grams after the campaign has stopped and for how long? Considering villagers continue to consume almost 4 times the salt than most western countries, what will the health outcomes be?
msatin
not rated yet Nov 20, 2013
Correction to my last sentence. It should read: Considering villagers continue to consume almost 1.6 times the salt than most western countries, what will the health outcomes be?

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.