Population-based salt intake survey to support the national salt reduction programme for Malaysia
In Malaysia, the prevalence of high blood pressure is high, affecting approximately one third of the adult population in 2011. This figure continues to rise and it is estimated that 7.6 million adults will have high blood pressure by 2020.
Salt intake in Malaysia is likely to be very high. The Ministry of Health Malaysia started a salt reduction initiative in 2010 but progress has been slow and there is still lack of key data to form a policy.
Funding and Partners
WASH Chair Prof MacGregor and WASH member Dr He, based at Queen Mary University of London, were awarded £359,167 by the UK Medical Research Council and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, to establish a project that could aid the development of a national salt reduction programme in Malaysia. The Institute for Public Health, Malaysia, and the Disease Control Division and Nutrition Division of the Ministry of Health, Malaysia, are project partners.
The project will involve 24 hour urine collection measurements - the gold standard method for measuring salt intake - to determine the level of salt intake among the Malaysian adult population. We will also assess the main sources of salt in the diet using a questionnaire, and assess the knowledge, attitude and practices towards dietary salt among the Malaysian adult population.
Our project will provide valuable data which are urgently needed for the development and implementation of a national salt reduction programme in Malaysia. This will lower salt intake across the whole population and thereby prevent many thousands of unnecessary deaths from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure each year, and also lead to major cost-savings to individuals, their families and the health services.
Although our study will be carried out in Malaysia, the research findings and the evidence-based salt reduction strategy developed in our study could potentially be generalisable to many other developing countries, particularly South East Asia. A reduction in salt intake, even by a small amount, across the whole population around the world will have enormous benefits in reducing the huge burden attributable to chronic non-communicable diseases.