Salt-reduction program benefited rural villagers in China

  • November 18, 2013

DALLAS — Community education and price strategies targeting salt intake in Chinese villages reduced daily sodium intake and increased daily potassium intake, according to study findings presented at AHA 2013.

“We identified a low-cost, practical intervention that was effective in reducing sodium intake,” Nicole Li, PhD, research fellow at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, said in a press release. “The World Health Organization and other groups have identified population-based approaches to salt reduction as among the most cost-effective possible strategies for vascular disease prevention in both developed and developing countries.”

Li and colleagues looked at five northern provinces in China, two counties from each province and 12 townships from each town. In total, they looked at 120 villages where the people consumed an average of 4.7 g to 5.9 g sodium per day (as compared with WHO’s maximum recommendation of 2 g per day).

Sixty villages acted as the controls, receiving no intervention. The other 60 villages received overall community health education advising reduced salt intake; specific health education targeting salt reduction messages for patients at high risk of cardiovascular diseases; and a food supply strategy designed to promote the sale of a reduced sodium, added potassium salt substitute through convenience stores.

Thirty of the villages in the intervention group received salt substitutes at a price comparable to traditional salt and 30 received salt substitute at market price, which is approximately twice the cost of salt.

After 18 months, researchers sampled 20 men and women from each village (n=2,400; age and sex stratified) and used 24-hour urinary sodium as the primary outcome.

Compared with non-intervention villagers, those who received the intervention had reduced daily sodium intake by 13 mmol and increased daily potassium intake by 7 mmol. Those villagers with access to reduced-price salt substitutes further showed 17 mmol reduction in daily sodium and 9 mmol increase in daily potassium. For reference, 17 mmol is equivalent to 1 g salt.

“The study findings could be applied in similar settings around the world in which salt added during food preparation at home comprises a significant proportion of daily sodium intake,” Li said.

For more information:

Li N. Abstract #19623. Presented at: the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 16-20, 2013; Dallas.

Disclosure: Li reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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