Salt Action Summary
New research from the University of Tokyo found that in a sample of 1027 men and 1046 women from all 47 prefectures of Japan, the average estimated 24 hour sodium excretion in men was 204.8 mmol/day and in women was 155.7mmol/day. This is equivalent to an intake of 11.8g/day in men and 8.9g/day in women. Although this was calculated by measuring sodium output from 3 random spot samples of urine, and is therefore not as accurate as 24 hour urinary sodium measurements, it indicates that salt intake in Japan is still worryingly high
Nissin Food Products pledged to reduce the salt content of its cup noodles by 15% by 2020. Nissin intend to challenge their rivals in Japan to also reduce the salt content of their products and urge them to work together to form industry guidelines on salt levels.
Results from the 2015 National Health and Nutrition Survey found that average population salt intake was 9.9g/day, with a male intake of 10.8g/day and a female intake of 9.0g/day. However, as this was calculated using food frequency questionnaires, this result may have been underestimated.
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare stated in April 2015 that the new target for salt intake was less than 8g/day for men and less than 7g/day for women.
In the Dietary Reference Intake for the general population in Japan (2010 version), the target levels of salt restriction in men and women were established as less than 9.0 per day and 7.5 g per day, respectively. The Japanese Society of Hypertension Guidelines for the Management of Hypertension 2009 recommended the target level of dietary salt restriction in patients with hypertension as less than 6 g per day. However, the National Health and Nutrition Survey of Japan in 2010 reported that the mean salt intake in adults was 10.6 g per day (men: 11.4 g per day and women: 9.8 g per day).
Following an interview with WASH Chairman Professor MacGregor, an article was published in August 2008 in Japan’s leading newspaper ‘The Asahi Shimbun’ raising awareness of the dangers of salt. The article referred to the recent successes of the UK’s salt reduction strategy.
In Japan, salt intake of population has increased from 10.7g to 11g per a day in the latest data for the first time in ten years. Experts warn that the Japanese are becoming the most ‘salt-friendly’ people in the world and point out it is imperative to involve the food industry to reduce salt intake.
The Japanese Hypertension Society (JHS) are very active in Japan in trying to lower population salt intake. The JHS have a working group with the aim of reducing population salt intake. They have been engaged in the following activities:
- New guidelines from JHS, published in the new edition of JHS Guideline for Hypertension Treatment, have resulted in the recommended daily allowance of salt intake being reduced from 7 g/day to 6 g/day.
- Presently, in Japan it is not mandatory to label the nutritional content of food products. JHS approached the department of food control in the Ministry of Health and Welfare and pushed them to make it a legal requirement to declare the salt content of food products. However, the Ministry of Health have replied that at present they are unable to make it a legal obligation for food companies to label the salt content of products. They have assured that they will encourage food companies to voluntarily list the salt content of their products.
- JHS are writing a number of booklets that will be published at the end of 2006, including: "How to measure salt intake in clinic", "What is the rationale behind recommending hypertensive patients to reduce their salt intake?", and "Cooking booklet to maintain 6g salt per day".
In the 1960s, the Japanese Government formed a public education programme to inform the public of the need to reduce their salt intake. Prior to that deaths from stroke in Japan were among the highest in the world, and in certain regions, particularly the north, the population was consuming as much as 18 g/day of salt. Furthermore, the stroke rates were shown to be directly related to the amount of salt consumed. Over the following decade average salt intake was reduced from 13.5 to 12.1 g/day, with a parallel fall in blood pressure in adults and children. This was also accompanied by an 80% reduction in stroke mortality despite large adverse changes in a range of other cardiovascular risk factors.