The WHO Southeast Asia Regional Office produced an excellent fact sheet on the importance of reducing salt for its member nations, which can be viewed here.
The Ministry of Public Health is currently running a national campaign; 'Thailand Health and Wellness', the specific goal of which is reducing morbidity and mortality of Thai people, affected by non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular accident and cancer.
Evidence has shown that a high salt/sodium intake in the Thai population is higher than optimal and is one of the important exposures that account for the common chronic diseases especially cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular accident (CVA) and chronic kidney disease.
In 2012, the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand (RCPT) and Thai Health recommended that the time is appropriate for a national campaign, the specific goal of which is to reduce the population level salt intake by 50%.
Four specific projects of the RCPT and Thai Health jointly convened research are:
1) Networking for development and reformulation of salt-reduced foods in promoting good health for Thais
2) HISO labelling project
3) Outcome evaluation of salt reduction campaign among Thai people
4) Contribution - develop the database for monitoring of levels of sodium in food product and contribution to overall intake. The benefits of this workshop are meant to contribute towards developing a national campaign for salt/sodium reduction as one step towards the primary prevention of chronic diseases.
A review of salt intakes and salt reduction initiatives in Southeast Asia found that estimated sodium intake in Thailand was 5.22g in 17-20 year old males and 4.50g in 17-20 year old females, equivalent to 13.05g and 11.25g of salt respectively. Salt intake in 20-30 year old adults was estimated at 7.6g/day and in 60-81 year olds was 8.8g/day. This was estimated from studies which used either food frequency questionnaires, 24-hr dietary recalls, 5-day food records or 48-hr urine sodium measurements. To view to full review, please click here.
The Non-communicable Diseases Net was established in 2010, and was initiated and supported by WHO Thailand, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and National Health Security Office, Thailand. The message used was “Thais reduce salt by half, keep diseases far away.”
The Department of Health Promotion, Mahidol University, along with UNICEF, conducted the first household survey of salt consumption in the Thailand. 842 urban and 1891 rural households were included in the survey, which found that 80% of salt came from fish sauce, table salt, soy sauce and monosodium glutamate added at the table. The remaining 20% of daily salt intake came from instant noodles, canned fish, fresh fish and cooking pastes.
The Thai Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the Department of Nutrition, Mahidol University, developed the “Thai Food, Good Heart” project with the slogan “Food Treats Heart”, which aimed to educate the population to identify heart-healthy foods and make healthier food choices. This project developed criteria that would enable foods to be labelled as ‘good’ for the heart, of which low salt content was a main criteria.