Report Says Poor Individual Choices Aren’t Always To Blame For High Salt Intake
The average Australian consumes 1.9 times the recommended daily salt level and it’s costing the healthcare system a staggering $10 billion a year, according to the Grattan Institute.
But poor choices aren’t always to blame.
According to the Sneaky Salt report, blaming individuals for poor food choices doesn’t stack up as many external factors push people towards certain food products and away from others.
“Australians have a killer diet,” the report noted, stressing the country’s food policies lag far behind those of leading countries. There are calls to limit the amount of salt in certain foods.
How can Australia Shake Its Salt Habit?
Australians want tougher policies that make it easier to stay healthy. But the policies they currently have are weak and infective. The Grattan Institute has called on authorities to catch up.
Voluntary limits on the amount of salt in bread and sausages were introduced in 2009. But they were poorly implemented, the report said.
It calls on governments to make some maximum salt limits mandatory, increase the number of food types covered by restrictions and measure salt content in food from restaurants.
High Salt Intake Claiming Innumerable Lives
Salt raises blood pressure and is linked to a number of serious ailments including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, calcium losses and cancers.
In Australia, high salt consumption claims some 2,500 lives each year but the report stresses the country could help prevent 6,000 hospital visits and 300 deaths a year by cutting down.
Additionally, the report also raises the prospect of exploring whether salt should be enriched with potassium as the mineral can make food taste saltier.
Mandatory Reformulation Of Food
Over the years, numerous studies have highlighted the need for more intensive efforts targeting the retail and food industries to restrict the population’s salt consumption.
A state-wide initiative in Victoria aimed at reducing salt intake in adults, in part through raising awareness and changing behaviour, failed to make a difference.
On the other hand, experts have recommended mandatory reformulation of food and improved nutrition labelling as measures needed to have a real impact.