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Reduce salt to extend life

By Faeza
13 January 2017

It seems as though salt has been forgotten about in recent years, with focus shifting diets low on sugar and fat.

But it’s important to remember that too much salt will also put a strain on your body. New research has found that cutting 200mg of salt a day (the equivalent to a pack of potato chips) could cut people’s risk of dying from heart disease.

Researchers, led by Boston's Tufts University, also estimate that by cutting 400mg of salt a day, the U.S. could save $3 billion in health care costs.

It’s currently thought that Americans consume nearly double the recommended 2,000mg of salt a day. Too much salt can lead to a host of heart problems, as well as kidney failure and stroke.

For their findings, the team, made up of U.S. and U.K.-based researchers, were able to measure the effectiveness of regulation to reduce salt intake by 10 per cent over 10 years in 183 countries.

Next they estimated the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), which is a measure of years lost due to ill-health, that would be averted by the policy in each country for each year between 2011 and 2020.

They concluded a global 10 per cent reduction on salt over this time period could save around about 5.8 million DALYs each year, because the number of people suffering from heart disease would be drastically reduced.

Next they worked out how much money could be saved if salt intake was reduced, with the team estimating 1.13 international dollars could be saved per person.

“We know that excess dietary salt causes hundreds of thousands of cardiovascular deaths each year,” said study author Dariush Mozaffarian.

“The trillion-dollar question has been how to start to bring salt down, and how much such an effort would cost. Our results, together with prior studies in selected countries, provide evidence that a national policy for reduction in sodium intake is highly cost effective, and substantially more so than even highly cost effective medical prevention strategies.”

Findings have been published in journal The BMJ.

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