Will Canada continue to ignore WHO (World Health Organization) and UN (United Nations) salt reduction recommendations?
The World Health Organization (WHO) just released its updated recommendations for dietary sodium intake reiterating a strong recommendation for target intake of less than 2000mg sodium/day in adults and a new recommendation to reduce that target for children (aged 2 to 15) based on their lower energy requirements than adults.
The updated recommendations were based on newly conducted systematic reviews of clinical evidence, published and new meta analyses of the identified evidence.
The potential for harm through reduced dietary sodium was considered in several analyses. Weaknesses in the database and especially a lack of clinical trial data to conclusively address cardiovascular health outcomes were noted, and recommendations were made for additional research. Conclusions were that reductions in blood pressure by reducing dietary salt were in the order of magnitude where large benefits to public health would be expected.
The WHO recommendations support draft United Nations recommendations for national governments to develop programs to reduce dietary salt by 30%. These levels of reductions in dietary salt in Canada require an effective strategy with strong governmental support.
Food Industry Self-Regulation Fails
Many healthy food interventions in Canada and other similar countries have been based on national governments requesting the food sector voluntarily make changes. Such interventions have almost uniformly failed, including requests in the 1990s from Health Canada to the food industry to reduce salt additives to food.
The most recent failure was reported in 2012, where overall sodium content of foods in Australia increased instead of decreased following an Australian government–food sector collaborative agreement to reduce salt additives to food.
Against the advice and strong protests of the national health and scientific organizations, and the Premiers and Ministers of Health from Canadian provinces and Territories and ignoring public opinion polls, the Federal government is following a course of requesting the foods sector to voluntarily reduce salt additives to food, adding that the government would not monitor their progress and does not want to burden industry.
Ineffective public health interventions cost tens of thousands of Canadians their health and lives each year and threaten our health care system.
Doing your part
If you know someone with hypertension or have it yourself, if you know someone with or have heart disease, stroke or kidney disease then remember government inaction is at least in part to blame. Call or write your Member of Parliament and ask why Canada does not have an effective strategy to reduce dietary sodium, or perhaps more to the point:
Why is the Canadian government ignoring WHO and UN recommendations?
Why has the government selected an approach that they know repeatedly fails using Canadian tax dollars?
Read the 2013 WHO (World Health Organization) PDF Guideline: Sodium intake for adults and children