Call to cut killer salt
Call to cut 'killer salt'

Excessive salt consumption in modern diets has been highlighted as a "major killer" for West Australians, with the Heart Foundation suggesting a 15 per cent reduction in salt intake from processed foods over a decade could prevent 470 hearts attacks in the State a year.

Heart Foundation dietitian Barbara Eden said that on average Australians had a daily intake of 1½ teaspoons of salt.

The foundation recommends the daily intake should amount to one teaspoon for healthy people and two-thirds of a teaspoon for those with high blood pressure or heart disease.

She said the 15 per cent reduction of salt intake over 10 years could avert 5800 heart attacks and 4900 strokes a year across Australia.

"Excessive salt consumption is a major killer and by cutting our salt intake, we can prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths," Ms Eden said.

"Australian adults are each eating 3.2kg of salt every year, which is three times more than we need. Children also eat more than three times what they need - an alarming 2.2kg each year."

Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said he could not comment on the figures cited by the Heart Foundation but confirmed reducing salt in the diet could have a significant impact on blood pressure and even prevent the need for extra prescriptions in those on medication.

"Focusing on salt can actually decrease your blood pressure quite significantly and it can make the difference," he said. "There are so many people on medication to control their blood pressure but a simple reduction in salt in their diet can improve that."

Dr Choong said West Australians had come a long way in lowering their salt consumption and were no longer piling it on food at the dinner table but it was still too high, partly because people were unaware how much was in the foods they were eating.

"So many things that we take for granted have salt in them and things that they don't expect to have salt, such as ice- cream," he said.

Dr Choong said parents should take note of how much salt they were unknowingly feeding their children, who not only mimicked their parents' eating habits but also risked developing a taste for salt once their palate was exposed to it.

The West Australian

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