Be Wary of Salt: The Toxic Effect of Voluntary Salt Limits

Salt is a necessity in our diet and can go a long way to keep our bodies in good health. However, intake of improper salt levels may adversely affect our body functioning and metabolism. In as much as we cannot downplay the importance of salt in our diet, we need to seek proper nutrition awareness on the salt levels that our bodies require to function normally.



The benchmark!

Taking England as the case study, The Food Standards Agency (FSA) had initially pushed companies very hard to meet specific targets on lowering salt levels. From 2003 to 2010, daily salt intake levels fell by 0.2g each year for men and by 0.12g for women – from an average of 10.5g for men and 8g for women per day. This is according to a paper in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health as reported by The Food Standards Agency (FSA)

Andrew Lansley’s input

In 2011, England’s coalition government, through the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, introduced a responsibility deal that asked food and drinks manufacturers and supermarkets to volunteer their own pledges to make their popular products healthier, such as reducing salt and sugar content.  In that year, 10,000 cases of heart disease and stroke and 1,500 cases of cancer were recorded according to researchers.

A rise in the number of health conditions

However, the period between 2011 and 2014, saw an annual reduction in daily dietary salt intake slow to 0.11g for men and to 0.07 g for women. Imperial College London, had its authors estimate 9,900 extra cases of heart disease and stroke, plus 710 associated deaths, between 2011 and 2018, 1,500 additional cases of stomach cancer, and 610 associated deaths, which may have resulted from the slowdown. The researchers also projected that if the slowdown persisted there would be an estimated 26,000 extra cases of heart disease or stroke and 3,800 additional stomach cancer cases by 2025. This would be a huge blow to societal health and would have led to reduced production levels and increased health bills.

The disastrous action

A debate is put in the air as to whether the industry by itself can be depended upon to make products healthier, according to Anthony Laverty, of Imperial College’s public health policy evaluation unit. According to Graham MacGregor, the chair of the campaigning group Action on Salt, the paper showed that the Responsibility Deal was a disaster for public health. He cited an increase in cases of strokes, heart failure, and heart attacks in the United Kingdom. Despite the study having some limitations as per the authors’  note, It was an observational modeling study that could not establish the cause, and the researchers did not collect long-term data on salt intake in the same people, a factor that could affect the findings. Nevertheless, we can bet on some degree of truth and credibility in the findings.

From the far experienced effects of unsuitable salt levels in our bodies, a tough challenge is posed to us in embracing cautious usage of the resource. Whether it is a question of the industry giving regulations or the government giving regulations of salt levels in products, the rolling ball is thrown to the consumer. Exercising wary measures such as seeking proper nutrition and dietetics information from specialists can be the only pillar of hope for us to lean on.


The Guardian, Coalitions voluntary salt limits have been public health disaster, July 2019.



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