Healthy living

Brits unaware of the dangers of salt

salt Linked to stroke, heart disease, cancer

Although 9 out of 10 people in the UK know too much salt can damage their health, very few are unaware how this happens, according to new research.

More than two thirds (69%) of those questioned knew that a diet high in salt was linked to high blood pressure, but only a third (34%) were aware it was associated with stroke.

And even less people were aware that salt is linked to conditions such as osteoporosis (4%), stomach cancer (6%), obesity (13%), kidney stones and kidney disease (27%), which can affect anyone.

The survey of over 2,000 people was carried out for charity Consesnsus Action on Health and Salt (CASH) to mark the start of National Salt Awareness Week.

When young people between the ages of 16 and 24 were questioned, only 1 in 5 (18%) were aware of the association of salt and stroke, probably because they felt it was not relevant to them, said the charity.

High blood pressure is the major cause of stroke and a major factor in heart disease, responsible for more than 60% of strokes, and almost half of all heart disease, the leading causes of death worldwide.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Chairman of CASH said, “The unnecessarily high amount of salt we eat leads to stroke and heart disease, and there is increasing evidence that salt intake is linked to stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and kidney stones and kidney disease.

"The food industry is responsible for our current high salt intake; it is imperative that they make larger reductions in the amount of unnecessary salt that they add to their products immediately, this is vital if we are to reduce our salt intake to the maximum recommended target of 6g a day or less, from the current 8.6g a day. This could make a big difference to yours, or your children’s future health.”

Each year around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. Around 1 in 3 people have high blood pressure.

This week the Kellogg Company announced it was cutting the amount of salt in its popular breakfact cereals by 30%, including Corn Flakes, Rice Crispies and Coco Pops.

The company said that none of its most popular cereals will be classed as ‘red’ (high) for salt using the Food Standard’s Agencies Traffic Light food labelling scheme, starting from March 2010.

This article was published on Mon 1 February 2010

Image © Chien Lee -

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