Changing the conversation about health
Register for Alerts

Salt should carry similar health warnings to cigarette packets, say experts

Salt cellars should come with clear health warnings on them to help prevent people from consuming too much, a group of doctors is advising.

The medical experts say consumers should be warned via labelling on salt shakers bought in supermarkets and when dining out, advising: “Too much sodium in the diet causes high blood pressure and increases risk of stomach cancer, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.

Consuming too much sodium, the main ingredient in salt, can lead to heart disease and heart and kidney damage, say experts, who want salt shakers to carry health warnings

The group of doctors say consumers should be warned via labelling on salt shakers bought in supermarkets and when dining out, advising: “Too much sodium in the diet causes high blood pressure and increases risk of stomach cancer, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.”

The World Health Organization is aiming to reduce salt intake by 30 per cent in 2025, a target that could save millions of lives say doctors.

Experts have also called for packaging to carry clearer labels on sodium content, with salt hidden in many everyday foods including pasta sauces, crisps and ready-made sandwiches.

In Britain, people are currently consuming an average of 8.1grams of salt a day, up to 30 per cent more than the recommended amount of 2.4 grams – around a teaspoon – daily.

The recommended consumption of salt in the UK is 2.4 grams daily, around a teaspoon

Too much sodium disrupts homeostasis, the body’s delicate balance of operating systems. Consuming high levels of salt causes excess fluid to be retained as the body tries to balance out the sodium.

Excess fluid then force the heart to work harder, sending blood pressure up which can lead to heart disease. There’s also evidence consuming too much salt can damage the heart and kidneys without increasing blood pressure.

A statement in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, lead by Dr Norm Campbell of the University of Calgary, a former president of the World Hypertension League, reads: “Unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death globally.

“And excess salt consumption is the biggest culprit, estimated to cause over three million deaths globally in 2017.”

Dr Tom Frieden, president and chief executive officer of Resolve to Save Lives, said: “Most people aren’t aware that the amount of salt they are consuming is raising their blood pressure and shortening their lives.

“Adding warning labels to all salt packaging is another way to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

COLLEGE OF MEDICINE SELF CARE TOOLKIT: RESEARCH ADVICE ON CONDITIONS INCLUDING IBS, DEPRESSION AND GETTING GOOD SLEEP