Reducing salt intake worldwide by only 10% could save millions of lives, a study reported Wednesday. Experts say that salt-triggered heart attacks and strokes could be massively reduced with this change in our diets.
Most adults exceed the recommended maximum salt levels of 2gm per day, resulting in 1.65 million deaths from heart disease every year, according to the World Health Organization. Research has shown that national policies to curb salt consumption can reduce the number of people affected by high blood pressure and heart disease.
A team of researchers led by Dariush Mozaffarian from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy calculated what it would cost to put in place a “soft regulation” strategy -- in coordination with industry -- for 183 nations. They took into account age and sex distributions in each country in estimating both the costs and health effects.
They also tallied the number the number of years lost to poor health that could be averted -- a measure called DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) -- with a salt-reduced diet.
The study concluded that cutting salt intake over a decade would avoid about 5.8 million DALYs every year, at an average per person cost of $1.13 over the 10-year period. The cost for each year of healthy life gained was roughly the same as what is currently spent on drugs used to prevent cardiovascular disease, they noted.