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Global campaigners take on salt in Malaysia and China
Global health experts take on high salt diets and high blood pressure in countries where it’s needed the most
Campaign group World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) are giving Malaysia and China a helping hand in improving the nations’ health. They’re launching salt reduction campaigns, conducting essential surveys and getting government decision-makers on board in these countries where high salt intake and high blood pressure are a growing health threat.
It’s long been established that a high salt intake directly raises blood pressure, and the researchers are raising awareness and taking action.
Setting up a salt reduction strategy in Malaysia
Around a third of Malaysians have high blood pressure, and the figure is rising. An estimated 7.6 million adults will have high blood pressure by 2020.
Despite the Ministry of Health Malaysia starting a salt reduction initiative in 2010, progress is slow and information about how much salt people eat is lacking, making it difficult to form a policy.
Professor MacGregor, Chairman of WASH and Blood Pressure UK, and WASH member Dr Feng He, were awarded £359,167 in 2016 by the UK Medical Research Council and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, to set up a project to help develop a salt reduction programme.
They launched the project last year, collecting data on salt intake. They’re analyzing the results as we speak. They’re currently in the process of developing a salt reduction strategy and setting targets for less salt to be added to foods.
Although the work is being carried out in Malaysia the findings and strategy could be useful throughout South East Asia and other developing countries where even small reductions in salt intake could have a huge impact.
Action on Salt China
Salt intake is China is troublingly high, at 12-14g per day – more than double the 5g target set by the World Health Organisation. China is home to a fifth of the world’s population and 244 million Chinese have high blood pressure, making salt reduction strategies and blood pressure control a priority of global importance.
A grant of £6.6m from the National Institute for Health Research has enabled Professor MacGregor and Dr Feng He to create Action on Salt China (ASC), a research partnership between Queen Mary University of London, The George Institute for Global Health China and the Chinese Health Authorities.
ASC aims to develop a salt reduction programme for home cooking, restaurant meals and pre-packaged foods which will achieve a 30% reduction in salt intake by 2025. Senior government officials attended the launch event in Beijing in October 2017 and expressed strong support for the campaign.
With thanks to The George Institute for Global Health Australia for permission to use the photo.