The recommended intake of salt is 5g per day, per person, but the organization noted that consumption of processed food is a rapidly increasing source of sodium. Processed and packaged bread, savoury snacks, meat products and cheese are among the categories of high-sodium food products identified for the new global benchmarks.
A majority of the people consume double the recommended daily intake of salt putting themselves at greater risk of the heart diseases and
stroke. The diseases kill an estimated three million people each year, according to the World Health Organization
The recommended intake of salt is 5g per day, per person, but the organization noted that consumption of processed
food is a rapidly increasing source of sodium. Processed and packaged bread, savoury snacks, meat products and cheese are
among the categories of high-sodium food products identified for the new global
“Most people don’t know how much sodium they consume, or the
risks it poses,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO
Director-General. He added that the countries need to establish policies
to reduce salt intake and provide people
with the information they need to make the right food choices.
The health agency was releasing a new set of global guidelines for sodium levels
in more than 60 food categories that will help countries reduce sodium contents
in foods to improve diets. The new guide, they say, will offer harmonized global
benchmarks that will show countries how they can progressively lower their
targets, based on their local food environments, and encourage the industry to
lower the sodium content in processed foods accordingly.
Dr Tedros also observed a need for the food and beverage industry to cut sodium levels in processed foods. WHO’s new
benchmarks give countries and industry a starting point to review and establish
policies to transform the food environment and save lives and target a wide range of categories of processed and
packaged food products that significantly contribute to overly salty diets.
Reducing sodium content by reformulating processed foods is
a proven strategy to reduce population sodium intake, particularly in places
where consumption of processed foods is high. It can also prevent processed
foods from becoming a major source of sodium in countries where consumption of
these manufactured foods may be rapidly increasing.
In the United Kingdom for instance, voluntary targets for
food manufacturers to reformulate products decreased adult salt intake
approximately 15 per cent between 2003 and 2011, indicating that target-setting across
multiple food categories can achieve meaningful reductions in sodium
“Access to affordable, healthy foods is critically important
for all people in every country. These global benchmarks are an important first
step. As consumer tastes adjust and technology advances, country governments
and the WHO can steadily reduce them over time until population sodium
reduction goals have been met”, said Dr.
Tom Frieden, President of Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital
Strategies, a global NGO that works against cardiovascular diseases in a
statement on Wednesday.
“When we reduce
sodium gradually, our food will still taste great, and only our hearts will
know the difference”, he added.