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WHO urges Vietnamese to eat less salt

Update: October, 01/2014 - 08:52
Senior citizens practice laughter yoga, a therapy that offers potential benefits to cardiovascular health. Reducing salt intake is one of the most effective ways for countries to improve population health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, according to WHO. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh

HA NOI (VNS) — The World Health Organisation (WHO) called on Vietnamese people to eat less salt in order to prevent cardiovascular disease, the major cause of death in the country.

While WHO recommends consuming less than 5 grams of salt per day, Vietnamese eat an average 12 to 15 grams, according to the National Nutrition Institute. Nearly 60 per cent of the population eats twice the recommended intake.

These figures are in line with results in other Asian countries such as China and Japan, where people consume around 10 grams.

Vietnamese people ate too much salt and it was harming their health, deputy director of the National Nutrition Institute Nguyen Thi Lam told Nong thon ngay nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.

Professor Nguyen Lan Viet, former director of the Viet Nam Heart Institute, said that consuming too much salt was one of the reasons that more people were developing high blood pressure.

"Having too much salt increases the amount of blood circulation, increasing the pressure on arteries and leading to high blood pressure. This greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes," Viet said.

The prevalence of hypertension in adults in Viet Nam aged 25 and older is 25.1 per cent. WHO estimates that cardiovascular diseases are the leading killer in Viet Nam, responsible for 33 per cent of total deaths.

WHO's global action plan aims to reduce global salt intake by a relative 30 per cent by 2025.

"Reducing salt intake is one of the most effective ways for countries to improve population health and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Both individuals as well as authorities can take simple salt intake reducing measures," said WHO Representative to Viet Nam Jeffery Kobza.

In addition to salt and soy sauce, commonly used ingredients like shrimp sauce and fish sauce create dishes that are high in sodium. WHO recommended individuals and families remove fish sauce, soy sauce and salt from dining tables and limit the amount of salt and fish sauce added in cooking to one-fifth of a teaspoon over the course of a day, in addition to reducing consumption of high-salt products such as crisps and instant noodles.

WHO also strongly encouraged the government to issue regulations and policies to ensure that food manufacturers and retailers incrementally reduced the levels of salt in food and beverage products and made low-sodium alternatives available and affordable. — VNS

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