Background/Aims: New Zealand has committed to the United Nations target of a 30% relative reduction in population dietary sodium intake by 2025. We developed a salt reduction model for New Zealand to determine the decreases required in sodium content of packaged foods to reduce population salt intake from the current 8.4g/day to the optimal World Health Organization target of 5g/day.
Methods: We adapted the methods of the successful UK strategy. Nationally-representative food sales data were linked with branded food composition information to determine the average contribution of major food categories to total salt consumption. Salt consumed at the table and in foods away from the home was estimated from National Nutrition Survey data. Target values resulted in the mean sodium content of each food category meeting an overall population salt intake of 5g/day.
Results: Assuming a 40% reduction in added salt and the sodium content of foods consumed away from the home, we calculated that a 36% reduction (1.6g salt or 628mg sodium) from packaged foods would reduce the population’s salt intake to 5g/day. Percentage reductions included 18% for white bread, 27% for hard cheese, 42% for sausages, and 47% for ready to eat cereals.
Conclusions: The estimated reductions required in the sodium content of New Zealand foods should be used to inform formal targets for food manufacturers to drive reformulation across the national food supply.The targets should be implemented as part of a government-led strategy to reduce population salt intake.
Funding: Heart Foundation of New Zealand research fellowship.