South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension worldwide. We estimate that up to 1 in 3 adults have raised blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart disease and the most important risk factor for stroke. Furthermore, a high salt intake is an established risk factor for increased blood pressure.
South Africans consume too much salt, 6 – 11 g per day, which is more than double the recommended amount. Fortunately, in 2013 the Minister of Health signed legislation to make salt reduction in the food industry mandatory, helping to achieve the government’s target to reduce salt intake to less than 5 g a day by 2020. This makes South Africa the first country globally to legislate salt levels to help reduce the amount of salt that the public takes in from processed foods.
It is against this backdrop that Salt Watch was established in 2013 through a multi-sectorial coalition group that will undertake the national public awareness and education campaign to encourage South Africans to reduce their salt intake. The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSF) was nominated as the implementing body of the campaign, is supported by the National Department of Health (DOH), and is a member of the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH). Founding members of Salt Watch are the HSF, North West University, Nutrition Society SA, Association of Dietetics SA, Consumer Goods Council SA, Medical Research Council, University of Pretoria, Unilever, Pepsico, Tiger Brands, retailers and other industry partners.
For more information about Salt Watch and advice on how to reduce salt intake, visit www.saltwatch.co.za.