16-22 March 2018 – Salt and Children
World Salt Awareness Week which begins on the 16th of March with the theme of this year’s international awareness week being “Salt and Children”. It is a timely reminder for people to understand the link between health and salt intake says Dr Mzukisi Grootboom, chairperson of SAMA. The inextricable link between high blood pressure and excess dietary salt, notably in African populations, is significant. The consequences of high BP, known as the ‘Silent Killer’ are massive inclduign increased risks of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
The data suggests that children and adolescents in Africa, especially those located within rural areas have a high prevalence of elevated blood pressure. The fourth goal of the South African Strategic Plan on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases is to reduce the mean population intake of salt to less than five grams per day by 2020.
The daily intake includes all salt ingested, whether added when the food is prepared, or at the table. This would mean that, per day, the average South African eats or uses less than five of the sachets one gets with a take away meal, or one level teaspoon of salt.
But, notes Dr Grootboom, many foods still have a lot of hidden salt in them, even foods that do not necessarily taste salty.
“We all have a responsibility to read the labels and choose foods with less salt. Most pre-packed foods have a nutritional label on the back or side, but it is much harder to eat less salt when eating out in restaurants and ordering a take away meal,” he says.
Making sure your child does not eat too much salt means you are also helping ensure they do not develop a taste for salty food, which makes them less likely to eat too much salt as an adult.
“During Salt Awareness Week we urge all households, manufacturers, and those in the food industry, to be salt wise. Let us all do our bit to switch to healthier habits,” concludes Dr Grootboom.