Indians are consuming more than double the recommended amount of salt, and putting themselves at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and early death, according to a new study that reviewed lakhs of people. Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health reviewed data involving 2,27,000 people across the country and found that their salt consumption far exceeds the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of just five grams per person each day.
The average daily salt intake was 10.98 grams per day for Indians over 19 years, against the WHO recommendation of 5 gm. The study found that salt consumption was higher in southern and eastern states. As intake of excess salt can lead to high blood pressure — a leading cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) — the study highlights the need for urgent action in India to reduce salt consumption.
Professor Vivek Jha, executive director of The George Institute for Global Health, India, said the country had to ramp up its efforts if it had any hope of meeting its WHO target — of a 30 per cent reduction in salt consumption — by 2025.
The George Institute is currently working with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC) to develop the evidence for a national salt reduction programme for India and is calling for the implementation of a national salt reduction strategy to tackle this growing crisis.
Professor Jha said a country-wide educational programme was required to teach people healthier ways to eat and reducing the salt in their diet.
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Lead author Claire Johnson, of The George Institute for Global Health, said, “Over the past 30 years, the average Indian diet has been transformed. Indians are eating less of pulses, fruits and vegetables, and a lot more of processed and fast foods.”
“As a result, their diets are now full of salt, sugars and harmful fats which are increasing the likelihood of high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke.”