Over the Salt Limit: Dietary Habits in India Double the WHO Recommendation
Exceeding the Salt Threshold
Recently, a survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has shed light on the average daily salt intake in India, revealing it to be considerably above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advised limit. Published in the respected Nature journal, the study showed that Indians intake 8.0 g of salt daily on average, with men consuming 8.9 g/day and women 7.1 g/day. This level of consumption exceeds the WHO’s recommended maximum of 5 g per day.
Who’s Consuming More?
The study revealed that the salt intake is notably higher among certain groups. These include men, rural inhabitants, and individuals who are overweight or obese. Furthermore, the study presented an alarming lack of awareness about the adverse effects of high salt intake and the practices needed to control consumption in the sample population.
Reducing Salt Intake: An Urgent Call
Prashant Mathur, the lead author of the study and director of the ICMR-National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, voiced the urgent need for measures to control dietary salt consumption. He suggested reducing the intake of processed foods and meals cooked outside the home to tackle the issue. The study also showed a higher salt intake among employed individuals, current tobacco users, and those with high blood pressure. The research advocates for a 30% reduction in average population salt intake by 2025. Achieving this could lead to a decrease in elevated blood pressure by 25% and is viewed as a cost-effective solution.
A Lack of Preventive Measures
The research also disclosed that less than half the participants took steps to control their dietary salt intake. The most common preventive measure was to avoid eating meals outside the home. However, this tactic alone is insufficient in combating the issue at hand.
High Salt Intake: A Silent Killer
Cardiovascular diseases, directly linked to high salt intake, cause an estimated 28.1% of total deaths in India. Shockingly, the number of deaths attributed to hypertension has more than doubled from 0.78 million in 1990 to 1.63 million in 2016. This stark increase highlights the urgency of the situation and the need for immediate intervention.
Methodology and Limitations
The study, which was nationally representative, used a validated method of estimating dietary sodium intake from spot urine samples. However, the researchers acknowledged the potential for information bias as data on awareness and behavior of salt intake were self-reported. The study did not gather data on the actual dietary sources of salt in food items and condiments for correlation analysis, which is a limitation that should be addressed in future research.
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