Five countries commit to implementing comprehensive sodium reduction policies to improve health and save at least 39,000 lives per year

New commitments made at 77th World Health Assembly event hosted by Resolve to Save Lives and NCD Alliance

 28 May 2024 (GENEVA, SWITZERLAND)—Bangladesh, Cameroon, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Singapore made new commitments today to implement comprehensive policies that will protect their populations from the harms of high-sodium diets. These commitments, made during the 77th World Health Assembly, will bring the world closer to the 2025 global target of a 30% decrease in sodium consumption.  

On average, people consume nearly double the WHO-recommended amount of <2 grams of sodium per person per day, according to the 2023 WHO global report on sodium. By implementing evidence-based sodium reduction policies and decreasing sodium consumption to the WHO-recommended level, it is estimated these countries will help prevent at least 39,000 deaths per year caused by high sodium diets, reduce preventable heart attacks and strokes, cut healthcare costs, and increase economic productivity. 

“Reducing salt is the key ingredient for more effective national food policy. Governments around the world can protect their people from excess sodium, saving lives, reducing healthcare costs, and increasing economic productivity,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President & CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “Countries in Africa and Asia took important steps today to protect the health of their people. We hope these commitments will create momentum not only in these countries but across the globe.” 

At least 1.9 million people die each year from consuming too much sodium—more than any other diet-related cause of death. Excess sodium consumption increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, and for premature disability and death. Four out of five of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In 2013, all countries committed to reducing population sodium intake by 30% by 2025, yet today only 5% of countries have comprehensive policies that focus on salt, no country is on track to achieve the reduction target, and most countries have seen no decrease in sodium consumption. Some countries are seeing an increase. 

At this year’s 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, public health decision-makers, technical experts, and program implementers from around the world discussed the integral role of sodium reduction in comprehensive national food policies and encourage countries to act. 

The five countries are committed to implementing a comprehensive package of evidence-based policies that will earn them a higher score on WHO’s Sodium Country Score Card. The policies that will earn them the highest score (4 out of 4) include:  

  • Reducing the maximum amount of sodium allowed in different food groups 
  • Enacting restrictions on foods high in salt, sugar, and fat, including: 
    • Mandatory front-of-pack warning labels 
    • Bans on purchasing with public funds  

By adopting a comprehensive package of these proven policy solutions, countries can significantly protect heart health, saving lives and resources. 

“Reducing sodium intake through mandatory policy measures is the most cost-effective way for governments to improve health and is a WHO ‘best buy’ to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases,” said Dr. Monika Arora, President, NCD Alliance. “It’s also good for economies—for every $1 invested in scaling up sodium reduction interventions, there will be a return of at least $12.” 

“We have all the evidence and tools we need to protect people from the harm of high-sodium diets,” said Dr. Luz De Regil, Unit Head, Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, World Health Organization. “Now is the time to act on our knowledge to meet global health goals and, ultimately, save millions of lives. Following through with commitments to advance evidence-based sodium reduction policies and continuing to share best practices will equip leaders with the knowledge and tools needed to improve diets, tackle cardiovascular disease, and achieve public health goals.” 

Everyone benefits from salt reduction. Even small reductions in salt and increases in potassium can lead to big reductions in blood pressure and its associated risks and big savings in health care and other economic costs. WHO’s Sodium Country Score Card monitors countries’ progress in making national commitments and taking a multifaceted approach to implementing policies to reduce sodium intake. All countries are encouraged to make and reinforce these commitments to reduce salt intake and promote healthier food environments through proven, mandatory policy measures.

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About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is a not-for-profit organization partnering with countries, communities and organizations to prevent 100 million deaths from cardiovascular disease and make the world safer from epidemics. To find out more, visit: or Twitter @ResolveTSL.