Results from an NIHR-funded randomised controlled trial conducted by WIPH researchers in collaboration with colleagues at the George Institute for Global Health in China show that, through smartphone app-based learning, school children can help their families to reduce salt intake. The study was conducted through 54 primary schools from three provinces in northern, central, and southern China between September 2018 and December 2019, with 12-month follow up assessment completed in 287 children and 546 adults in the intervention group, and 278 children and 526 adults in the control group. Children in the intervention group were taught about salt reduction using a smartphone app (AppSalt). The app was installed on parents’ or grandparents’ phones, and the children’s homework was to remind their family to complete the learning and tasks with them. Around 80% of salt intake in China is added by consumers, and to date, no country has demonstrated a successful salt reduction programme in such a setting. The average baseline salt intake before the intervention was 10g/day for adults (double the WHO recommended level). Over a 12-month period in this study, salt intake was significantly reduced by 8% (0.82g/day) in adult family members, a reduction accompanied by a significant fall in systolic blood pressure. Researchers estimate that scaling up this novel approach across China would prevent around 250,000 stroke and heart disease events per year.
App based education programme to reduce salt intake (AppSalt) in schoolchildren and their families in China: parallel, cluster randomised controlled trial. Feng J He, Puhong Zhang, Rong Luo, Yuan Li, Yuewen Sun, Fengge Chen, Yuhong Zhao, Wei Zhao, Daoxi Li, Hang Chen, Tianyong Wu, Jianyun Yao, Changxing Lou, Siyuan Zhou, Le Dong, Yu Liu, Xian Li, Jing He, Changqiong Wang, Monique Tan, Jing Song, Graham A MacGregor.