119 World Health Leaders Can’t be Wrong

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A National Sodium Reduction Plan is Essential to improving national population health, the United Nations and World Health Organization confirm.

The United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed that preventing and controlling hypertension and reducing dietary sodium are critical to national governments improving population health.

A national sodium reduction plan is essential.

This confirmation comes from a Formal Meeting of WHO Member States as part of the first-ever global monitoring framework to combat several of the world’s biggest killers.

The session in Geneva last week was attended by representatives from 119 Member States, one regional economic integration organization, one intergovernmental organization and 17 nongovernmental organizations.

They all came to the same conclusion: sodium reduction for the global population would have a great effect on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases stemming from cardiovascular diseases.

Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death in the world and represent over 63% of all annual deaths. These diseases can be prevented and their impacts significantly reduced, with millions of lives saved and untold suffering avoided. Of the 36 million people who die annually from these diseases, 14 million are aged under 70 years, and regarded therefore as premature and largely preventable deaths. 80% of the deaths related to noncommunicable disease occur in the developing world.

The Report states we need to not only reduce sodium intake, but also reduce the impact of advertising junk foods, especially to children:

Agreed by consensus:

“…30% relative reduction in mean population intake of salt/sodium intake (WHO recommendation is less than 5 grams of salt or 2 grams of sodium per person per day)”

“…Policies to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt…”

It is clear that Canada needs a national sodium reduction strategy which would address the reformulation of foods, improved labelling, education, research, monitoring and evaluation of all that relates to sodium.

The Current Situation in Canada

Across the country, 7.5 million Canadians are living with high blood pressure. Diets high in sodium are responsible for about 2 million of these cases.

Most Canadians consume far more salt than is healthy. Three quarters of our daily salt intake comes from prepared and manufactured foods.

In 2010, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health agreed to the interim goal of reducing salt consumption from an estimated average of 3400 mg per day to 2300 mg per day by 2016. In November 2011, the Federal Government rejected a Federal/Provincial and Territorial plan to reduce dietary sodium, blurring their former commitment.

Excess sodium intake is a major contributor to high blood pressure and high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease (stroke and heart attack) and further associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer, osteoporosis, asthma and several other health conditions.

We need the Federal Government to commit to, and act on, a national sodium reduction strategy to make it easier for Canadians to choose low sodium foods. This needs to start with the Federal government setting salt reduction targets for the food industry, committing the food industry to meet these targets and closely monitoring industry’s progress in meeting these targets.

As a Canadian, you have a strong and powerful voice. Follow this link to sign our petition and/or e-mail Prime Minister Harper urging stronger federal government leadership and commitment to a national sodium reduction strategy for Canada.

The point is, it IS preventable, and it’s time the government take action.

Let the federal government know you agree. Sign the petition asking the Canadian federal government to commit to a National Sodium Reduction Strategy.

As the Canadian Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control, I understand the dire effect that sodium has on the population. The future health and healthcare of Canadians depends on action now.

 

 

 

 

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