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Salt Reduction Initiative Positive Step For Hearts

29 April 2004

New Salt Reduction Initiative Positive Step For Heart Health

Waitemata DHB believes a new National Heart Foundation initiative to reduce dietary salt by working with food manufacturers could significantly improve the community’s cardiovascular health.

The Heart Foundation this week released research findings identifying more sodium in lower cost and private label packaged foods than in more expensive brand products.

It now plans to work collaboratively with food manufacturers on ways to reformulate their lower-cost products to improve salt content.

Waitemata DHB’s Cardiovascular Health Project leader Dr Robyn Whittaker supports the move as a cost-effective way of reducing the risk of stroke, heart and blood vessel disease.

“This is a hugely important preventative measure because a simple step like reducing the salt in a loaf of bread can positively impact the health of a large number of New Zealanders,” she says.

Studies by the University of Auckland’s Clinical Trials Research Unit have also shown that a 10 percent reduction in bread’s salt content is feasible without a detectable change in taste.

New Zealanders consume approximately nine grams of salt daily - at least three grams more than the recommended daily intake of 2.3 – 5.9 grams.

High salt intake has proven links with high blood pressure – a condition the World Health Organisation has reported as causing about 50 percent of cardiovascular disease worldwide.

With cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death both in Waitemata and New Zealand, strategies like the salt reduction initiative are vital, says Dr Whittaker.

“There are around 17,000 adults in the Waitemata district with cardiovascular disease and a further 10,000 who have a 15-20 percent risk of a cardiovascular event within five years so implementing measures to help reduce this burden of disease is critical.”

Dr Whittaker says identifying other measures to improve nutrition and physical activity are key priorities of the DHB’s five-year Cardiovascular Health Project.

“One of our aims is to create a register of the nutrition and activity programmes across Waitemata – especially those aimed at children and schools – so that we can help various organisations work together and extend their success stories across the district.”

Other key focus areas for the project include smokefree initiatives, improving cardiac rehabilitation services and investigating the possibility of an organised stroke service for the district.

Waitemata DHB initiated the Cardiovascular Health Project in 2002 to examine ways of reducing deaths from heart disease and promoting better cardiovascular health.

Reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease is one of the Government’s national health priority objectives.


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