Salt reduction can save many lives at low cost
Eating too much salt raises blood pressure and causes more than 3 million deaths each year. Reducing salt consumption is possible and can be done cheaply: about $0.40 per person.
Excess salt increases blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Globally, excess salt consumption (>5 grams per day) is responsible for 3 million deaths from heart disease, stroke, and related causes each year. Four out of five of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and nearly half are among people younger than 70.
Average salt intake is nearly twice the recommended level globally. In 181 of 187 countries, covering 99% of the world’s population, estimated average levels of salt intake exceed the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 5 grams per day, or just under one teaspoon per day.
We have identified a core set of salt reduction strategies, and work with countries to implement a strategy according to their key sources of salt, complementary efforts and political will.
|Salt reduction strategy||Public health impact||Speed to implement|
|Promotion of salt substitutes||Moderate/large||Medium|
|Food procurement policies||Moderate||Medium|
|Industry reformulation of packaged food||Moderate/large||Medium/slow|
|Interventions for restaurants||Not yet proven||Unknown|
What we're doing
Our Cardiovascular Health team works with local, national, and global partners to track salt consumption rigorously and help scale up proven strategies to reduce salt consumption. We are currently working in China, Ethiopia, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines on salt reduction interventions.
In 2019, the Chinese government debuted, “Love with Less Salt,” the country’s first major mass media campaign to dramatically depict the dangers of the high salt diet common in China. Read about our involvement.