WHO global report on sodium intake reduction

10 March, 2023

Extract from WHO news release and a comment from me below. Full text: https://www.who.int/news/item/09-03-2023-massive-efforts-needed-to-reduc...


A first-of-its-kind World Health Organization (WHO) Global report on sodium intake reduction shows that the world is off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025.

Sodium, an essential nutrient, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death when eaten in excess...

“Unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disease globally, and excessive sodium intake is one of the main culprits,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This report shows that most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. WHO calls on all countries to implement the ‘Best Buys’ for sodium reduction, and on manufacturers to implement the WHO benchmarks for sodium content in food.”

A comprehensive approach to sodium reduction includes adopting mandatory policies and WHO’s four “best buy” interventions related with sodium which greatly contribute to preventing noncommunicable diseases. These include:

1. Reformulating foods to contain less salt, and setting targets for the amount of sodium in foods and meals

2. Establishing public food procurement policies to limit salt or sodium rich foods in public institutions such as hospitals, schools, workplaces and nursing homes

3. Front-of-package labelling that helps consumers select products lower in sodium

4. Behaviour change communication and mass media campaigns to reduce salt/sodium consumption...

To read the report, visit: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240069985



1. I suspect that the majority of the world's population have little if any idea that excessive salt causes hypertension, heart disease and death. This message is not contained on food labelling (which contrasts with the health warnings on cigarettes). Is there a place for clearer messaging?

2. WHO recommends a salt intake of less than 5 grams (approximately 2g sodium) per person per day. How many people are aware of this, and to what extent do people understand the implications for their individual diet.

3. Most people in the world eat too much salt, putting their health at risk. Most people are probably doing so without knowing and without understanding the risk they are putting on themselves.

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: neil@hifa.org