Role of salt intake in prevention of cardiovascular disease: controversies and challenges.
371 - 377
Nat Rev Cardiol
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Strong evidence indicates that reduction of salt intake lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The WHO has set a global target of reducing the population salt intake from the current level of approximately 10 g daily to <5 g daily. This recommendation has been challenged by several studies, including cohort studies, which have suggested a J-shaped relationship between salt intake and CVD risk. However, these studies had severe methodological problems, such as reverse causality and measurement error due to assessment of salt intake by spot urine. Consequently, findings from such studies should not be used to derail vital public health policy. Gradual, stepwise salt reduction as recommended by the WHO remains an achievable, affordable, effective, and important strategy to prevent CVD worldwide. The question now is how to reduce population salt intake. In most developed countries, salt reduction can be achieved by a gradual and sustained reduction in the amount of salt added to food by the food industry. The UK has pioneered a successful salt-reduction programme by setting incremental targets for >85 categories of food; many other developed countries are following the UK's lead. In developing countries where most of the salt is added by consumers, public health campaigns have a major role. Every country should adopt a coherent, workable strategy. Even a modest reduction in salt intake across the whole population can lead to a major improvement in public health and cost savings.