High-level roundtable to explore Action on Salt China

With the accelerated urbanization and changes of lifestyle, Chinese dietary pattern is transforming quietly. Energy-dense foods that are high in salt and sugars are becoming increasingly popular. And in China, a developing country with a large population, high salt is an important part of the food culture with a long history. Salt is the main source of sodium, and sodium consumption is closely associated with hypertension, heart disease and stroke. It is suggested by World Health Organization (WHO) that an estimated 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level. 

WHO says reducing salt intake has been identified as one of the most cost-effective measures that countries can take to improve the population health outcomes.

To explore China's salt reduction road, The George Institute China held a salt reduction expert roundtable on May 25, 2017. Participants included experts and professors from Queen Mary University of London, Division of Surveillance and Evaluation, Chinese Center for Health Education, Division of International Cooperation and Communication, Chinese Center for Health Education, Division of Non-communicable Disease Control and Community Health, China CDC, Division of Health Education and Intervention, Non-communicable Disease Control and Prevention Center, China CDC, Division of Public Nutrition and Policy Standard Research, Institute for Nutrition and Health, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as research fellows from the George Institute China.

The George Institute for Global Health has conducted years of research in the area of salt reduction, wherein, The China Salt Substitute and Stroke Study (SSaSS) is the first and largest ever RCT study in the world aiming to lower cardiovascular morbidity and mortality via salt reduction. 

Professor Craig Anderson, Executive Director of The George Institute China, said in the opening remarks that although there is a long way to go, China's salt reduction work is imperative. Professor Graham MacGregor and Dr. He Fengjun from Queen Mary University of London also shared experiences in reducing the amount of salt intake in the UK and other countries. Subsequently, experts from the George Institute China, China Center for Education Health, NCD Division of China CDC, NCD center of China CDC, National Institute for Nutrition and Health, China CDC, China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment also reported their work concerning salt reduction carried out in respective fields, and discussed on the challenges faced.

In the afternoon, participants had a heated discussion about the details of Action on Salt China.

Professor Zhang Puhong, Associate Director of the George Institute China, said: "The low-salt healthy diet is not only the social responsibility but also the personal responsibility. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended a 30 percent reduction in the salt intake for the global population by 2025, so the economical and effective health strategy for the population is becoming increasingly important and urgent for the government and the society as a whole. This closed-door roundtable provides a great opportunity and platform to share our work experience from all points of view of health practitioners, discuss challenges and difficulties we face, and establish partnerships to better support the government's chronic disease prevention and control." 

"The experience sharing and in-depth discussion of this roundtable will undoubtedly help to further carry out the salt reduction work, and further influence the government's chronic disease prevention and control policies."