No? Really? That much salt?

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

Australians are eating at least a third more salt than they think, according to new research carried out by The George Institute for Global Health.

400 residents of Lithgow believed they were eating 6.8 g of salt a day when in reality they were consuming more than 9 g.

The residents were asked to recall what they had eaten over a 24-hour period — then their urine was tested to reveal the true picture of what they had actually consumed.

The findings, published in Public Health Nutrition, demonstrate that Australians are still largely unaware of the amount of salt in their diets.

“The dangers associated with eating too much salt are widely known, yet we are consuming way too much every single day, more than double than what is recommended,” said co-author Associate Professor Jacqui Webster, of The George Institute for Global Health.

People just don’t realise just how much salt they are adding to their food while cooking or at the table and are still unaware of the hidden salt in breads, processed meats, soups and sauces, salty snacks and other commonly consumed foods.

The study found the food categories that contributed the most to salt consumption in Lithgow were bread and cereal products, meat dishes, soups and savoury sauces and condiments.

“We need to stop adding salt unnecessarily onto our foods when preparing meals at home. But more importantly, we need more manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt in the foods we consume. We’ve had some progress through government salt reduction targets but efforts need to be increased.

The research was undertaken to update the average salt intake for Australia produced by the Australian Health Survey (AHS).  The AHS uses the dietary recall method and estimates salt intake at just 6.2 g/day.

Associate Professor Webster, of The George Institute, said: “The Australian Health Survey is incredibly important and helps map out our public health priorities but underestimates salt intake by at least a third.

“Our results show a pressing need for a coordinated approach by government, industry and the public to reduce salt consumption. High salt intake is a major factor contributing to cardiovascular disease and we know that even a small reduction can lead to huge national health benefits.”

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