Public Health and Primary Care at Barts and the London, Inaugural Lecture - Professor Graham MacGregor

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22 March 2011

Time: 5:30pm
Venue: Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Charterhouse Square

Mammals are designed to live away from the sea and do not eat salt. Unfortunately the Chinese 5000 years ago discovered that salt had the magic property of preserving food. Salt became of great economic, religious, and political significance, but at the cost of putting up our blood pressure - the major cause of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks. We are now eating 20 to 50 times more salt than we are designed to. Some of this salt stays in our body and puts up our blood pressure. 60% of the population have raised blood pressure at the age of 60. The food industry is responsible for 80% of our salt intake hidden in processed foods, fast foods etc and they must take responsibility for the thousands of unnecessary deaths and suffering they are causing. Salt intake is slowly falling in the UK. Most people are unaware that most of the products that they consume contain 20 to 30% less salt than five years ago.
For each 1 gram reduction in salt, approximately 6000 deaths are prevented. The UK leads the rest of the world which is slowly following. The food industry needs relentless pressure from government, health professionals and the public. If we can do this, millions of people worldwide will be saved from dying, suffering unnecessarily, from strokes, heart failure, heart attacks and stomach cancer.

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