Salt consumption dropping but still too highProcessed food contains most of the salt eaten

20 March 2007

Salt consumption in Britain has dropped but is still on average 50 per cent higher than the recommended amount, new research reveals.

Tests on 1,287 adults showed their average salt intake was 9g per day compared to 9.5g when the last tests were done in 2001.

But consumption is still higher than the Government's national target of 6g per day, the Food Standards Agency said.

Still above target

The urinary sodium tests carried out in 2005/06 showed men consumed an average 10.2g of salt per day compared to 11g in 2001.

Women's average intake was less at 7.6g per day - down from 8.1g in 2005/06.

The results follow a Food Standards Agency (FSA) campaign encouraging people to cut their salt intake.

The latest phase of the campaign warns that 75 per cent of salt eaten in Britain is found in processed food.

FSA chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said: 'These results illustrate the progress that is being made in reducing the nation's daily salt intake.

'However, there is still some way to go before we reach the 6g target and we all now need to build on this to ensure that the downward trend continues.'

Blood pressure

The FSA's campaign follows a scientific report published in 2003 which said reducing Briton's salt intake would lower average blood pressure, which in turn would help cut heart disease.

High blood pressure is at least partly to blame for 170,000 deaths in England each year, the report found.

An additional survey of 1,990 British adults carried out last month found that 40 per cent were trying to cut their salt consumption.

But 90 per cent of those were simply not adding salt to their food, with only 12 per cent eating less processed food to reduce their salt intake.

Which? supports moves to reduce levels of salt in food and welcomed the drop in salt consumption.

Campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) says it could prevent around 3,500 deaths per year.

CASH chairman Professor Graham MacGregor said: 'A half gram reduction may not seem important but given that previous studies had shown that salt intake was rising, it is a remarkable achievement.'

The FSA's Full of It! campaign, fronted by comedienne Jenny Eclair, warns shoppers to check the salt content of ready-made sandwiches, ready meals, pasta sauces and pizzas before buying them.