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World Action on Salt. Sugar & Health

Geographic and socioeconomic variation of sodium and potassium intake in Italy


A new study by CASH member Professor Francesco Cappuccio, indicates that across Europe people of low socio-economic background eat more salt than those on higher incomes – which can contribute to the lower life expectancy seen in these groups.

The study, the 'Geographic and socio-economic variation of sodium and potassium intake in Italy', also unearthed a significant north–south divide. Participants living in less affluent southern Italy (e.g. Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia) had significantly higher salt intake than elsewhere. In a previous study Professor Cappuccio found similar results across Britain where salt intake is higher further north in Scotland compared to more affluent, southern parts of the British Isles. He believes that his latest study demonstrates that social inequalities in salt intake are a Europe-wide problem. 

Professor Cappuccio says that "The government can do something about this by discouraging manufacturers from producing cheap, salty food and distributors from selling them. These are the types of foods consumed by those on lower incomes because they are inexpensive but ultimately they have a detrimental effect on your health.”

Campaign Manager for CASH Sonia Pombo says "The UK salt reduction programme benefits the entire population including those less educated, which is why this has been hailed such a success. However, in order to reach those most in need more effectively, manufacturers need to do a lot more. Good quality nutritious food should be available for all, not just the well-educated or well off; it is immoral to make the unhealthy option cheaper. Voluntary efforts however will only go so far without substantial pressure from the conservative government, so it's time they got tough with the industry and demanded more progress."

Click here for the full paper



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