Are you worth your salt?


A new research study conducted by a consortium of International Union of Nutritional Societies (IUNS) and Unilever scientists provides a first global overview of consumer perception of salt consumption.

The study was conducted across eight countries and five continents to gain insights on knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to salt consumption among the general population. Representative samples, stratified for age and gender, were recruited from online cohorts from Germany/Austria, United States, Hungary, India, China, South Africa and Brazil. A number of 6,987 participants completed a comprehensive web-based questionnaire on salt intake and associated behaviours.

The study reveals that around 70% of salt intake is derived from bought food, ranging from 42% in India to 83% in USA; the rest is added during food preparation and at the table.

A key finding was that, overall, salt reduction was perceived to be healthy and important, yet the majority was unaware of the official daily salt intake recommendations or the sources of salt in their diet. The study was co-authored by leaders of National Nutrition Societies in each country of the study and Professor Ibrahim Elmadfa, President of the IUNS.

“Although over one-third of the people around the world are currently not interested in reducing their salt intake, the positive news is that the majority wants to learn about why salt is bad for health and how to reduce salt intakes” says Dr Feunekes.
Participants saw themselves mainly responsible for their salt intake, but also acknowledged the role of others. As such, strategies to reduce salt intake must stimulate an interest to reduce salt consumption through an improved understanding of intake levels and dietary sources of salt.

‘The findings provide a good basis for salt reduction strategies and policies and provide unique insights into knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to salt consumption’, says Professor Elmadfa. ‘While some aspects of salt reduction can be globally implemented, local strategies should be tailored to match specific needs of the population’.

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