Driving down salt intake in China: Targeted campaigns needed to reduce excessive intake by 50%

By Shali S.

- Last updated on GMT

Targeted educational campaigns focused on the health risks associated with high salt intake could promote behavioural change among consumers in China. ©Getty Images
Targeted educational campaigns focused on the health risks associated with high salt intake could promote behavioural change among consumers in China. ©Getty Images

Related tags China Salt

Targeted educational campaigns focused on the health risks associated with high salt intake could promote behavioural change among consumers in China, say researchers.

A recent study conducted by Chinese researchers seeks to analyse salt consumption patterns in Anhui province, China, with the goal of designing effective public health interventions.

In 2012, individuals over the age of 18 in China had an average daily salt intake of 10.5 g, double the recommended amounts by the Chinese Dietary Guidelines (6 g) and the World Health Organization (5 g), raising concerns about cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Recognizing the pressing need to manage and prevent CVD, reducing salt intake emerged as a standout strategy due to its cost-effectiveness and feasibility. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) advocated for a global initiative aiming to achieve a 30% reduction in salt intake by the year 2025. This international call to action spurred over 70 countries to implement a diverse array of salt reduction initiatives in a bid to enhance public health outcomes.

The study in Anhui, China, involved 3,378 participants aged 18 to 69, selected through a multi-stage stratified cluster random sampling method. Factors influencing salt reduction behaviour were assessed using multi-factor unconditional logistic regression analysis, considering demographic factors such as age, gender, education level, occupation, marital status, and health history, particularly hypertension.

The study revealed that 60.07% of Anhui residents engaged in salt reduction behaviours, with key insights into specific demographics: 

1. Gender:​ Women were more likely to adopt salt reduction measures, possibly due to their traditional role in meal preparation and concerns for family members' diets.

2. Age:​ Older individuals were more likely to reduce salt, indicating potential health awareness or a preference for home-cooked meals.

3. Education Level:​ Higher education was associated with a greater likelihood of adopting salt reduction measures.

4. Hypertension:​ Individuals with a history of hypertension were more inclined to practice salt reduction, suggesting heightened awareness among those already at risk of cardiovascular issues.

Furthermore, the study underscored the impact of dining out on salt reduction, emphasizing the need for government interventions targeting sodium levels in restaurant meals. These nuanced findings underscore the necessity for targeted public health interventions, taking into account demographic factors such as age, gender, and education level.

The correlation between hypertension and salt reduction behaviour suggests that health education campaigns targeted at individuals with chronic conditions can be particularly effective. Focused educational campaigns that explain the health risks associated with excessive salt intake have the potential to enhance awareness and foster behavioural change over the long term.

Additionally, the study highlighted the significance of interventions aimed at restaurants and food establishments, recognizing their potential contribution to overall salt reduction efforts.

Leveraging these findings, policymakers can craft evidence-based interventions and policies aimed at mitigating the health risks associated with excessive salt consumption within the Chinese population. In doing so, the study becomes not only a valuable piece of research but also a catalyst for tangible, positive changes in public health practices, said the researchers.

Study: Salt reduction behavior of adults in Anhui province in 2019: a cross-sectional survey of 3,378 participants

Source: Frontiers in Public Health

Authors: Xing X.Y., et. al.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389%2Ffpubh.2023.1242969​ 

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