Healthy China: Ambitious plans to cut dietary oil, salt and sugar intake nationwide by 2030

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China’s national health strategy guidelines, dubbed the ‘Healthy China Movement’, has announced ambitious goals of cutting dietary oil, salt and sugar nationwide by 2030, in tandem with the overarching ‘Healthy China 2030’ initiative. ©iStock
China’s national health strategy guidelines, dubbed the ‘Healthy China Movement’, has announced ambitious goals of cutting dietary oil, salt and sugar nationwide by 2030, in tandem with the overarching ‘Healthy China 2030’ initiative. ©iStock

Related tags: China, Salt content, Oil, Sugar

China’s national health strategy guidelines, dubbed the ‘Healthy China Movement’, has announced ambitious goals of cutting dietary oil, salt and sugar nationwide by 2030, in tandem with the overarching ‘Healthy China 2030’ initiative.

Directors from the Healthy China Movement committee revealed that the goal was to cut salt consumption by some 50%, oil consumption by 30% to 40%, and sugar consumption by at least 17% from 2012 numbers.

This would mean a daily consumption of 5g salt per person in 2030 vs 10.5g on average in 2012, 25g-30g oil per person in 2030 vs 42.1g previously, and not more than 25g sugar per person in 2030 vs 30g previously.

“Our main focus in this action plan will be on the Three Reductions: Salt reduction, Oil reduction and Sugar reduction,”​ said Director of National Institute for Nutrition and Health of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Dr Ding Gangqiang.

“There are four main actions we intend to take. The first is pushing for the normalisation of related nutritional and health activities in society, and the second is to promote the correct usage of [what we call] the ‘little three items’: a quantity-limiting salt scoop, volume-limiting oil bottle and waist-measuring tape.

“Next would be to conduct further research on standards surrounding these three food items and the recommended daily limits listed on the product packaging, as well as to encourage grocery stores to set up specific aisles for low fat, low salt and low sugar products.

“The last is to advocate the use of safety-certified natural sweeteners to replace sucrose and use science to reduce sucrose content in processed foods. [The same goes for salt], where the production and retail of low-sodium salt should be advocated under professional guidance.”

Especial attention was paid to the area of sugar reduction, where Dr Ding emphasised the need for clear front-of-pack labelling for consumer clarity as well as the development of local sugar intake guidelines for children.

The importance of standards

According to National Health Commission (NHC) Deputy Director Zhang Zhiqiang, the committee intended to use standards as a major stepping stone in tackling ‘Three Reductions’ issues.

“The first way is to implement mandatory standards for food and beverage items under the Food Safety Law to regulate the usage of oil, salt and sugar,”​ he said.

“The Food Safety Law also stipulates the need to make standard provisions for nutritional labels, and the National Nutritional Society is looking at how to make revisions in this regard.

“We are also looking at recommended standards, which would involve guidance, society participation and action on the part of the food industry.”

Behavioural changes

NHC Director Mao Qun’an, who also moderated the conference, acknowledged the difficulty of achieving the ambitious goals that were put forward, but emphasised that things were slowly changing in the country.

“[The country has] been promoting these sorts of health actions for many years, and I can say that this has been effective as many families have taken notice and made changes,” ​said Mao.

“I also want to emphasise that change is necessary, but difficult, especially when it come to food and beverage consumption habits. This challenge is faced not just in our country, but internationally, and it will take at least ten to twenty years before we might or might not reach our initial targets.

“So don’t think that this [change in healthy consumption habits] is all that simple. [It] is a long road ahead, and we must persevere in this 10-over year plan of action.”

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