In observance of World Salt Awareness Week, Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, stated, “Too much salt in our diets can harm our health, leading to unnecessary deaths from heart attacks and strokes, as well as other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).”The Caribbean is well known for its high dietary intake of fats, salts, and sugars, which are primarily obtained from processed and ultra-processed foods. The average sodium consumption in the Region has been calculated to be 9-12 grams per day.
This is more than twice the World Health Organization’s recommended daily allowance of less than 5g/salt or 1 teaspoon (2g sodium) per adult per day from all sources.CARPHA member countries have pledged to meet the World Health Organization’s voluntary target of reducing sodium (salt) consumption by 30% by 2025. CARPHA developed a Regional Framework for Sodium Reduction in Populations to support Member States’ initiatives to reduce sodium consumption in their populations.
Lowering sodium consumption in children’s diets today can help prevent heart disease later in life, especially in overweight children. The Regional framework, which is intended for policymakers, manufacturers, health professionals, and relevant multisectoral stakeholders from the public, private, and civil society sectors, envisions healthy and vital Caribbean people whose average sodium intake falls below the current global target of 5g per day for adults. This year, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, in collaboration with the regional and international communities, will observe World Salt Awareness Week from March 14 to 20 under the slogan “Shake the Salt Habit.”
“Let us try to shop and cook smartly.” When cooking, we encourage you to add more flavor and use less or no salt. Make use of fresh herbs and seasonings. “Reduce your intake of salty snacks,” advises Dr. Tamu Davidson, Head of the Chronic Disease and Injury Department.
“Take the time to carefully read the nutrition labels on food products,” she added. They can assist you in selecting healthy food options and keeping track of foods high in salt that you consume.
“Children, too, can cook. CARPHA-produced recipes contain little or no salt. The implementation of Front of Package Labeling is a key component of the CARPHA 6-Point Policy Package, as it empowers consumers to make healthy food purchasing decisions.
Salt reduction in processed foods, as well as mandatory nutrition labeling, are examples of dietary considerations that must be implemented. Governments and food manufacturers are urged to create supportive environments that allow for the provision of lower salt options, to implement front-of-package labeling to provide consumers with easy-to-read and understand information, and to reformulate food products to contain less salt.