Salt consumption in adults and children and a food industry perspective on salt targets are just some of the topics on the agenda at a seminar in Melbourne to mark the start of World Salt Awareness Week on 26 March.
Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) with the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH), and the National Stroke Foundation is holding a free public seminar.
Salt reduction and stroke prevention is the theme for this year’s World Salt Awareness Week because salt is the major factor that raises blood pressure and high blood pressure is the single biggest modifiable risk factor for stroke. Evidence also suggests that a high salt intake has a direct, independent effect on stroke, indicating that salt is responsible for many incidences of stroke.
Professor Caryl Nowson from Deakin University is an expert in the role of dietary minerals and electrolytes in the control of blood pressure. She holds the chair of professor of Nutrition and Ageing at Deakin University and was the founding chairperson of AWASH.
Professor Nowson, who will be speaking at the seminar, said excessive salt consumption was a critically important public health issue.
“The maximum daily amount of salt recommended for health by the National Health and Medical Research Council is just four grams of salt each day,” Professor Nowson said.
“Consumption levels in recent studies suggest daily average intake is about nine grams – more than double that amount.”
National Stroke Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor said reducing average salt intake by just one gram per day worldwide could prevent thousands of deaths from stroke every year. “Stroke is the second leading cause of death in Australia and a major cause of adult disability,” Dr Lalor said.
“By raising awareness of the dangers of high salt consumption we hope to reduce the incidence of stroke.
“It’s very important that everyone learns how to cut their salt intake and how to read food packaging so you can make healthier food choices.”
Professor Nowson will be joined at the seminar with speakers from the National Stroke Foundation, Deakin University and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.