‘Forgotten killer’ salt set for health agenda return

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Salt has slipped down the list of public food concerns, with sugar taking the top spot
Salt has slipped down the list of public food concerns, with sugar taking the top spot

Related tags: High blood pressure, Hypertension, Nutrition

Salt could return to the top of the health agenda after a survey found more than half of the UK population were unconcerned about how much they consumed, and only 14% knew that 6g was the recommended maximum daily amount.

Fears are mounting that salt has become “the forgotten killer”​, after it had fallen to number three in the list of consumer food concerns, according to Klinge Foods, the manufacturer of LoSalt, which commissioned the survey of 2,000 UK adults.

The recent focus on sugar, championed by many celebrities, appeared to have had the effect of sidelining salt consumption, Klinge said.

Salt has slipped down the list of public food concerns, with sugar taking the top spot (with 64% of people concerned) followed by saturated fat (45%) and then salt (42%).

In 2013, fat was the public’s biggest dietary concern, followed by salt and then sugar.

‘Salt raises blood pressure’

The survey’s findings were backed by BBC Radio 2’s resident doctor Sarah Jarvis, who said: “Salt raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

“The average person in the UK is consuming 8.1g of salt, which is much higher than is recommended, so this is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

High blood pressure affects one-in-four adults, according Public Health England (PHE). However, 41% of the people surveyed did not know there was a link.

Meanwhile, a quarter surveyed did not realise high blood pressure often has no signs or symptoms.

In March, PHE published two sets of targets for levels of salt in 76 specific food groups, which it originally devised in 2014.

‘Some substantial progress to be made’

At the time of publishing, it said there was still “some substantial progress to be made in working towards achieving these targets, particularly by the eating out-of-home sector”​.

Pressure group Consensus Action on Salt & Health accused food manufacturers of not doing enough to reduce salt levels in their products.

After surveying 28 food categories, the organisation claimed only one – bread rolls – was on track to meet PHE’s 2017 salt reduction targets.

The Food and Drink Federation claimed its members had reduced the salt in their products by an average of 8% under the government’s Responsibility Deal, which launched in 2011.

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