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Wolfson Institute of Population Health - Barts and The London

Salt reduction will prevent nearly 200,000 cases of heart disease and save £1.64bn

A combined study from both the Wolfson Institute and the Institute for Population Health Sciences shows that, if 2018 salt intake levels are maintained, England’s salt reduction programme will have led to nearly 200,000 fewer adults developing heart disease, and £1.64 billion of healthcare cost savings by 2050.

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The paper, published in Hypertension, used 2000-2018 population survey salt intake and disease burden data, and found that the 2003-2018 salt reduction programme in England achieved an overall salt intake reduction of 1g/day per adult, from 9.38g/day in 2000 to 8.38g/day in 2018.The researchers also found that if the World Health Organization recommended salt intake of 5g/day is achieved by 2030 in England, these benefits could double, preventing a further 213,880 premature cardiovascular disease cases and contributing further health and social care savings to the UK government of £5.33 billion. Excess salt intake is strongly linked with raised blood pressure and increased risks of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, gastric cancer, and osteoporosis. Raised blood pressure is responsible for half of the burden of ischemic heart disease and more than 60% of strokes.

Co-author Professor Graham MacGregor said: “This study shows the enormous health benefits and cost effectiveness of the gradual reduction in salt intake in the UK. The food industry has since stopped reducing the excessive amounts of salt they add to our food (80% of our intake), due largely to government inaction. It is now time for Downing Street to take decisive measures in forcing the food industry to comply with salt reduction targets. If not, many more thousands of people will suffer unnecessary strokes and heart attacks.”

Sergi Alonso, Monique Tan, Changqiong Wang, Seamus Kent, Linda Cobiac, Graham A. MacGregor, Feng J. He, Borislava Mihaylova. Impact of the 2003 to 2018 Population Salt Intake Reduction Program in England - A Modeling StudyHypertension 2021.