Implementing sodium reduction policies could save an estimated seven million lives globally by 2030, WHO said in a new report launched on Thursday.
“Unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disease globally, and excessive sodium intake is one of the main culprits,” the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared.
A first-of-its-kind WHO global report on sodium intake reduction shows that the world is off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30 per cent, by 2025.
“This report shows that most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems,” he said.
To reverse this trend, the global healthy agency is issuing a call to all countries to implement plans for sodium reduction, and to manufacturers to set ambitious sodium reduction targets in their products.
A source of flavour, as well as armed conflict over millennia, sodium-rich salt is now being over-consumed across the world to the detriment of health overall.
Sodium, an essential nutrient, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death when eaten in excess, reads the WHO report.
The global average intake is estimated to be 10.8 grams per day, more than double the WHO recommendation of less than 5 grams, or one teaspoon, daily. The main source of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride), but it is also contained in other condiments such as sodium glutamate.
Former top US health official, Tom Frieden, President and CEO of the group, said countries must work urgently to implement ambitious, mandatory, government-led policies to meet the global target of reducing salt consumption by 2025.