salt intake is a major determinant of raised blood pressure and cardiovascular
risk, responsible for an estimated 1 in 10 cardiovascular deaths worldwide. In
2013, all World Health Organization countries committed to achieving a 30% relative
reduction in mean population salt intake by 2025. The study reviews progress in
Australia and New Zealand compared to other countries.
Methods: Salt reduction initiatives were identified from a systematic search of published and grey literature, accompanied by questionnaires sent to country program leaders. The programs in Australia and New Zealand were compared against other countries based on strategic characteristics extracted from a pre-defined framework.
Results: NeitherAustralia or New Zealand currently has a nationally coordinated government-led salt reduction strategy. However, both countries have strong non-governmental organization (NGOs) action. Existing initiatives include engaging industry with voluntary salt targets, consumer education and voluntary front of pack labelling. However neither country are amongst the 12 countries that have reported reductions in population salt intake, nor do they have any forms of legislative salt action; this compares with 33 countries who have national salt standards for foods procured in public institutions, salt content limits in foods, mandated front-of-pack labeling or targeted taxation on high-salt foods.
Conclusion: Current salt reduction activity is insufficient to achieve the global salt target by 2025 in either Australia or New Zealand. More effective, well-resourced, nationally-coordinated government strategies, collaborating with and leveraging the existing efforts of NGOs, are urgently needed.
Funding source(s): NHMRC, VicHealth, World Health Organization