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World Action on Salt. Sugar & Health


Developing a policy to reduce the salt content of food consumed outside the home in Malaysia

May 2020 - November 2021

Read our project launch blog

In early 2020, Professor Feng He and Professor Graham MacGregor, based at Queen Mary University of London, were awarded £140,000 from the Newton Fund Impact Scheme, along with partners at:

  • Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  • Univerity of Malaya
  • Sunway University
  • Ministry of Health Malaysia

The funding will be used to develop a policy to reduce the salt content of food consumed outside the home in Malaysia. This project is a continuation of our previous work in Malaysia which revealed that food eaten outside the home (from restaurants or street food vendors) is a major contributor of salt to the Malaysian diet. The majority of the population eat outside the home regularly and while the salt content of those meals is likely to be high, without nutrition information at the point of sale, it is difficult for consumers to monitor how much they eat. 

Project Overview

We will:

  • interview 285 stakeholders across the country to determine what factors they feel might prevent a policy to reduce salt levels in the out of home sector
  • use this data to develop a strategy
  • gain commitment from policy makers to implement our strategy as policy
  • organise workshops to explain to chefs and other food industry representatives why salt should be reduced, and the methods they can use to reduce salt in food.

Setting salt targets for pre-packaged food is an important approach for reformulation policies and this work is currently underway in Malaysia, led by the Ministry of Health. However, out of the home sector is lagging behind. Given the large contribution of foods consumed outside the home to daily salt intake in Malaysia, engagement with the industry to achieve a gradual reduction in salt levels would have a greater impact on public health than education or public awareness campaigns.

Salt levels in food eaten outside the home is a public health issue around the world. While we will aim to benefit the health of the Malaysian population through our project, we hope the results will be utilised by other countries in the development of similar salt reduction policies.


Policy Implementation

September 2020 - August 2022

Enabled by a funding package received from Resolve to Save Lives, World Action on Salt, Sugar & Health (WASSH) has begun implementing the initiatives developed as part of the strategy to reduce salt in Malaysia’s out of home sector. This will include developing communication and engagement strategies, including high level meetings and workshops with multiple stakeholders.


Developing Salt Reduction Targets

April 2020 - August 2022

Based on the data gathered through the population-based salt intake survey, which identified the key contributors of salt to the Malaysian diet, WASSH has received funding from Resolve to develop salt reduction targets for key contributors of salt to the diet.

We will develop and implement salt reduction targets for key contributors of salt intake including sauces and instant noodles. Crucial to the success of the implementation will be a communication and engagement strategy, including high level meetings and workshops with key stakeholders.


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