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WASH Launch 2006

4 May 2012

WASH Launch

4th October 2006

Medical experts launch global campaign against salt to prevent over 2.5 million deaths worldwide each year

194 medical experts from 48 countries around the world (1) have today joined together to launch a new global organisation, WASH – World Action on Salt and Health – in a concerted effort to reduce dietary salt intake to less than 5g per day per adult (the WHO target), in order to lower blood pressure globally.  

Raised blood pressure is the biggest single cause of cardiovascular disease accounting for 62% of strokes and 49% of heart disease (2).  Strokes and coronary heart disease kill more people around the world than any other cause of death – around 12.7 million people each year (3).  It is estimated that reducing salt intake by 6g a day could lead to a 24% reduction in deaths from strokes and an 18% reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease, thus preventing approximately 2.6 million stroke and heart attack deaths each year worldwide (4).

In order to save these lives, the main aims of the new organisation will be to:
• Persuade international food companies to employ a global salt reduction plan, so that not only will the salt content of their processed food products be reduced but it will be uniform in each country they market in
• Ensure that the body of evidence from the scientific community about the dangers of excessive salt consumption, is translated into policy by each individual Government around the world
• Reduce salt added at home during cooking and at the table through a combination of media publicity and public health campaigns e.g. the Food Standards Agency campaign in the UK (http://www.salt.gov.uk/index.shtml)

WASH research has highlighted the huge variations in salt levels in the same food product purchased in different countries around the world (see table at end of release).   Some of the incredible discrepancies uncovered include:
• Nestle Cheerios bought in the Caribbean contain 2.33g of salt per 100g while the same brand in the UK contains around half that amount - 1.2g per 100g  
• Kellogg’s Coco Pops in Colombia contain 2.13g of salt per 100g, whilst, amazingly, in Italy the salt content is less than an eighth of this, at 0.25g per 100g  
• A Kentucky Fried Chicken Twister purchased in the UK contains 34% more salt than the same product purchased in France
• A McDonald’s Cheeseburger Happy Meal in the UK contains 57% of a six year-old’s daily recommended limit of salt, while the same meal in Brazil contains 98% of a six year-old’s daily limit.(5)

Naomi Campbell, WASH Project Co-ordinator, said “Why should people in Colombia have to eat cereal packed full of salt if people in Italy can have the same product with a fraction of the salt content?  Why is it OK for British people to have more salt in their Kentucky Fried Chicken Twister than people living in France?  Why should people living in the Caribbean have almost twice as much salt in their Cheerios as people living in the UK?  The scientific evidence shows that eating too much salt leads to raised blood pressure, which in turn causes heart disease and stroke.  High salt diets have also been linked to stomach cancer and osteoporosis.  These huge variations in salt contents show that the excuses of the food industry – that it is technically too difficult to reduce salt, and that customers will not accept the reductions – are rubbish.  WASH research shows food companies have reduced salt levels in some countries – we want them to reduce the salt in all their products in all their markets.”

“The UK is currently leading the way in reducing salt,” said Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of WASH.  “The experience of Finland, which has had a salt reduction programme running since the late 1970s, shows that population-wide reduction of dietary salt leads to population-wide reductions in blood pressure and parallel reductions in deaths from stroke and heart disease. The American Medical Association has recently voted to work to reduce the amount of salt added to food by industry in the US by at least 50% in the next ten years.  And the launch of WASH coincides with a World Health Organisation summit in Paris on October 5-7th to discuss the role of salt in global health.  But if we are really going to save lives around the world we need to make sure that food producers make salt reductions in all their markets.  I am really encouraged by the number of individual experts who have joined WASH and the geographical spread of the countries involved.  If we encourage the food industry in all these markets to make gradual reductions in the salt content of their foods, which is easy to do, as illustrated by Finland and the UK, then we will make a huge difference in people’s health around the world.”

WASH would like to work with the multinational food companies to ensure that the salt contents of their products are reduced across the world. The organisation is also keen to hear from other medical experts and health campaign organisations who wish to be a part of this global action to improve health.

Project Coordinator: Naomi Campbell BSc (Hons)
Nutritionist: Joanna Butten, ANutr, MSc, BSc (Hons)

For more information please contact:

WASH Project Coordinator Naomi Campbell, + 44 20 8725 2409, ncampbel@sgul.ac.uk   

WASH Chairman Professor Graham MacGregor, +44 20 8725 2848, gmacgreg@sgul.ac.uk

References:

(1) A full list of WASH members is available on www.worldactiononsalt.com

(2) World Health Organisation.  World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life.  World Health Organisation; 2002.  Available at www.who.int/whr/2002

(3) The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke. World Health Organisation. Available at  http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/cvd_atlas_01_types.pdf. Accessed  September 27, 2006.

(4) Feng J He & Graham A MacGregor. How far should salt intake be reduced? Hypertension. 2003;42: 1093-1099.

Deaths (millions)i Deaths saved with a 6 g/d reduction in salt intake (%)ii Deaths saved with a 6 g/d reduction in salt intake (millions)
Global stroke deaths 5.5 24% 1.32
Global CHD deaths 7.2 18% 1.30
Total 12.7 2.62

i The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke. World Health Organisation. Available at  http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/cvd_atlas_01_types.pdf. Accessed  September 27, 2006.

ii Feng J He & Graham A MacGregor. How far should salt intake be reduced? Hypertension. 2003;42: 1093-1099.

(5) UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended salt intakes for children
Age Target Average salt intake (g/day)
0-6 months <1g
7-12 months 1 g
1-3 years 2g
4-6 years 3g
7-10 years 5g
www.sacn.gov.uk


N.B. The World Health Organisation does not have targets for children, so we have referred to the UK SACN targets.

Some examples of variations in salt content in different countries (N.B. Data gathered from food companies' own websites May-Sept 2006 - we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by individual companies.)

Products commonly consumed by children

Company & product Country with highest salt content of product % contribution a standard serving would make to a 6yr old child’s recommended intake  1, 2 Country with lowest salt content of product % difference between highest and lowest
Kellogg's –
Coco pops Colombia - 2.13g/100g 21% Italy - 0.25g/100g 750%
Kellogg's –
Rice Krispies Canada - 2.77g/100g 28% Portugal, Belgium – 1.50g/100g 85%
Nestle –
Nesquik Caribbean - 1.67 g/100g 17% Colombia - 0.49g/100g 240%
Nestle –
Chocapic Chile - 0.66 g/100g 7% Peru - 0.24 g/100g 174%
McDonald's –
4 McChicken Nuggets USA – 1.13g/serving 38% South Africa – 0.01g/serving 8900%
McDonald's –
Hamburger Venezuela - 2.03g/serving 68% Portugal - 0.5 g/serving 306%
McDonald’s –
Cheeseburger Venezuela – 2.32 g/serving 77% Portugal – 1.0g/serving 132%

1. A 30g portion of cereal is used as the standard portion size for cereal products.
2. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) guidelines for children's salt intake used
as recommended values. Recommended maximum salt intake for 4-6 yr old children = 3g salt/day (www.sacn.gov.uk)

Products commonly consumed by adults

Company & product Country with highest salt content of product % contribution a standard serving would make to an adult’s recommended intake   1, 2 Country with lowest salt content of product % difference between highest and lowest
Kellogg's –
Just Right Sweden - 1.5g/100g 9% Australia - 0.08g/100g 1900%
Kellogg's –
All Bran UK, Ireland - 2.25g/100g 14% USA - 0.65g/100g 249%
Nestle –
Honey Nut Cheerios Caribbean - 2.25 g/100g 14% UK - 1.10 g/100g 105%
Nestle –
Cheerios Caribbean - 2.33 g/100g 14% UK - 1.2 g/100g 94%
McDonald's –
Big Mac
Venezuela - 3.19 g/serving 64% Portugal - 1.25 g/serving 155%
McDonald's –
McChicken Sandwich
Belgium - 3.00g/serving 60%
Ireland - 1.01g/serving 196%
McDonald’s –
Fillet Fish UK - 2.00g/serving
40%
S.Africa - 0.92g/serving
117%
Burger King –
Bacon Double Cheeseburger Canada - 3.7 g/serving
73% UK - 2.2 g/serving
66%
Burger King –
Onion rings NZ - 1.21 g/serving
24% UK - 0.45 g/serving
166%
Kentucky Fried Chicken –
Twister UK - 4 g/serving
80% France 3.0 g/serving
34%
Subway –
Turkey & Bacon Melt Wrap
UK - 5 g/serving
100% NZ - 4.05 g/serving
23%

1. A 30g portion of cereal is used as the standard portion size for cereal products.
2. World Health Organisations (WHO) target intake of salt for adults has been used as the recommended salt intake. Recommended salt intake for adults = 5g salt/day.
World Health Organisation Technical Report Series 916: Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (2003)

Full results of the WASH research into international brands are available at www.worldactiononsalt.com

 

 

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