Initiatives to reduce sodium content of foods come in the form of mandatory or voluntary targets put forward by governments, initiatives proposed by food companies, or health-focused recommendations from entities like the World Health Organization. As the world focuses more on sustainable diets, we can expect these sodium targets to become more important and prevalent in the coming years. In this article, we review:
- Sodium’s role in health
- Tax and legislation initiatives on sodium reduction being enacted globally, and their impact
- Voluntary initiatives from food industry and impact on sodium intake
- What to expect in the future
- Effects of excess sodium intake on health
- SaltHeart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the European Region1. Excessive consumption of sodium raises blood pressure which is a major risk factor for these conditions2. Salt is the main source of sodium in foods3, therefore reducing salt intake can naturally translate into a lower sodium intake, which is beneficial for health4.
- A moderate reduction in salt consumption can result in a significant reduction in blood pressure and is associated with reduced cardiovascular events5. However, sodium isn’t all bad! The human body requires small amounts of sodium to regulate body fluids and maintain critical body functions6. Unfortunately, our intake far exceeds the threshold required, which has a negative impact on health7.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) advises an individual’s salt intake should not exceed 5 g of salt (2g of sodium) per day. The current daily salt consumption in most European countries is estimated to be between 8 to 12 grams per day, with few member states above and below this intake level8.
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