Canadians Support Interventions to Reduce Dietary Salt

Eighty percent of survey respondents agree food industry should use less salt, according to new study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology

Philadelphia, PA, March 13, 2013 – Many Canadians are concerned about dietary sodium and welcome government intervention to reduce sodium intake through a variety of measures, including lowering sodium in food, and education and awareness, according to a national survey. The top barriers to limiting sodium intake are a lack of lower sodium packaged and processed foods and lower sodium restaurant menu options.

“Canadians are supportive of government intervention to lower salt intake,” says lead investigator Mary R. L’Abbe, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at University of Toronto, noting that most Canadians eat more than the recommended amount of sodium, increasing their risk of developing high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions.

To combat high sodium in Canadian diets, a federal government-appointed multi-stakeholder Sodium Working Group developed, “A Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada,” a formal set of recommendations that focus on the food supply, education and awareness, and research in order to lower the amount of sodium Canadians eat from an average 3,400 mg per day to 2,300 mg per day by 2016. The group also called for voluntary sodium reductions in the food industry coupled with regular monitoring of progress, which may be enforced through regulation should industry fail to reach targets.

To assess Canadians’ concern about sodium, actions, and barriers in limiting sodium consumption, researchers from the University of Toronto and University of Guelph conducted an online survey (http://consumermonitor.ca) with a representative sample of the Canadian population in terms of age, sex, province, and education.

In light of the proposed federal Bill C-460 – legislating the group’s recommendations – investigators also sought to determine Canadians’ level of support for a number of sodium reduction initiatives.

There was very high support for almost all types of public health interventions to lower sodium. Eighty percent of respondents would like the food industry to lower the amount of sodium in food. A large number supported setting maximum amounts of sodium in grocery and restaurant foods and for foods served in public settings like schools and hospitals. There was little support for taxation of high sodium foods or subsidizing lower sodium foods.

Among the 2,603 people surveyed, 67 percent were concerned about their sodium intake, especially older individuals and those with high blood pressure.

Approximately half of the respondents were actively limiting their sodium intake. However, many thought they consumed low amounts of sodium because they did not add salt to their food. Others were not limiting their sodium intake because they had low or normal blood pressure and overall good health, contradicting the literature demonstrating benefits of sodium reduction in individuals with normal blood pressure. Only 16 percent of people knew the recommended intake for sodium (1,500 mg per day), and 12 percent knew the maximum amount that should be consumed (2,300 mg per day).

The results are published in the May issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

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Notes for Editors
“Results of a National Survey Examining Canadians’ Concern, Actions, Barriers, and Support for Dietary Sodium Reduction Interventions,” by JoAnne Arcand, PhD, RD, Julio Mendoza, PhD, Ying Qi, MSc, Spencer Henson, PhD, Wendy Lou, PhD, and Mary R. L’Abbe, PhD, Canadian Journal of Cardiology, Volume 29/Issue 5 (May 2013), DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2013.01.018, published by Elsevier.

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Canadian Stroke Network.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request. Contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or e.leahy@elsevier.com to obtain copies.

Journalists wishing to set up interviews with the authors should contact
Nicole Bodnar
Media Relations and Communications Specialist
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
+1 416 978 5811
Nicole.bodnar@utoronto.ca

About The Canadian Journal of Cardiology
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology (www.onlinecjc.ca) is the official journal of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (www.ccs.ca). It is a vehicle for the international dissemination of new knowledge in cardiology and cardiovascular science, particularly serving as a major venue for the results of Canadian cardiovascular research and Society guidelines. The journal publishes original reports of clinical and basic research relevant to cardiovascular medicine as well as editorials, review articles, case reports, and papers on health outcomes, policy research, ethics, medical history, and political issues affecting practice.

About The Editor-In-Chief
Editor-in-Chief Stanley Nattel, MD, is Paul-David Chair in Cardiovascular Electrophysiology and Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal and Director of the Electrophysiology Research Program at the Montreal Heart Institute Research Center.

About The Canadian Cardiovascular Society
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society is the professional association for Canadian cardiovascular physicians and scientists working to promote cardiovascular health and care through knowledge translation, professional development, and leadership in health policy. The CCS provides programs and services to its 1900+ members and others in the cardiovascular community, including guidelines for cardiovascular care, the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, and, with the Canadian Cardiovascular Academy, programs for trainees. More information about the CCS and its activities can be found at www.ccs.ca.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence,and ClinicalKey—and publishes over 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

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Media contact
Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
+1 732 238 3628
e.leahy@elsevier.com