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PHE survey finds adult salt consumption is decreasing

6 April 2016  •  Author(s): Victoria White

New data from Public Health England’s (PHE) National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that adults have cut their average salt consumption by 0.9 grams per day in the decade from 2005 to 2014.

salt consumption

Average salt consumption for adults in 2014 was 8.0 grams per day. This has decreased from 8.5 grams in 2011 and 8.8 grams in 2005/06. Overall salt intake has fallen by 11% since the 2005 to 2006 survey.

Public Health England commissioned an assessment of the salt content of 24-hour urine collections made from May to September 2014. A random sample of 689 adults aged 19 to 64 years, designed to be representative of adults in England, took part in the study.

Too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. A reduction in average salt intake from 8g to 6g per day is estimated to prevent over 8000 premature deaths each year and save the NHS over £570million annually.

A steady downward trend in salt consumption

Commenting on the research, Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Our analysis makes clear that there is a steady downward trend in salt consumption. While people are having less salt than 10 years ago, we are still eating a third more than we should.

“The majority of the salt we eat is in everyday foods so it’s important to check labels and choose lower salt options. Many manufacturers and retailers have significantly reduced the salt levels in everyday foods. However, more needs to be done, especially by restaurants, cafes and takeaways.”

Around three quarters of the salt that we eat is found in the foods we buy. The PHE Change4Life healthy living campaign offers tips and advice on how to cut down on salt in the diet including checking labels on food. Where colour-coding is used, red means high. PHE advises consumers to try to eat high-salt foods only occasionally, or in small amounts, and aim to eat mainly foods that are green (low) or amber (medium).

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