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WHO lowers salt consumption recommendation

WHO lowers salt consumption recommendation

With high blood pressure less than two grams of sodium per day

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Many sufferers do not even know about the health risk they are in. Because hypertension does not cause pain or discomfort in everyday life over a long period of time, but increases the risk of heart attack and stroke many times over. An unhealthy and sodium-rich diet is usually the cause of the disease. Particularly alarming: more and more children suffer from high blood pressure.

Few studies on hypertension in children "Hypertension is the leading cause of death or disability worldwide," warned the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Nutrition, Francesco Branca, on Thursday at the launch of the current sodium intake policy. Salt consumption and high blood pressure are directly related. The WHO hopes that a reduction in salt consumption will significantly reduce the increasing number of chronic diseases. For the first time, there is also a recommendation for children in the directive, as more and more children and adolescents suffer from high blood pressure.

So far, there are only a few studies examining high blood pressure in children. In its recommendation, the WHO refers to nine studies that examined the effectiveness of a low-salt diet in children and adolescents from Australia, Europe and the USA between the ages of five and 15 years. The results are clear: both systolic and diastolic blood pressure are significantly reduced by salt reduction. According to the WHO, it is also permissible to use study results with adult subjects for children as soon as their kidney function is fully developed.

In addition to high blood pressure, increased salt consumption is also associated with osteoporosis, asthma, stomach cancer and obesity in children and adolescents. However, there is little scientific evidence for this connection.

WHO guideline on sodium consumption for the first time with recommendations for children The WHO has so far set an upper limit for daily sodium consumption for adults of two grams of sodium, which corresponds to about five grams of table salt. In the current guideline "less than" was placed before this value, so that five grams of salt represent the absolute upper limit.

It is more difficult for children to specify the amount of sodium. The WHO recommendations are based on age, height, weight and energy requirements. Often, however, nine-year-olds already consume 2000 calories a day, which corresponds to the energy needs of an adult woman. Therefore, the WHO advises to use national energy tables. The maximum amount of two grams of sodium per day should not be exceeded. According to the British Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), children should on average not eat more than 1.5 grams of sodium per day. This corresponds to about 3.5 grams of table salt. However, the scientists point out that children who take part in normal family meals often consume significantly more salt.

Finished products can cause high blood pressure due to their high sodium content. The highest amounts of sodium are contained in finished products. According to the WHO, the top positions are taken by soup cubes, closely followed by soy sauce, bacon and snacks such as chips, pretzels or popcorn. Accordingly, bacon or pretzels already contain the daily dose of salt for an adult.

"Successful implementation of the recommendations would have a major impact on public health systems by reducing deadly diseases, improving the quality of life for millions of people, and significantly reducing health costs," reports WHO.

Hypertension increases risk of heart attack and stroke Hypertension is considered one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, especially for heart attacks and strokes. A large meta study by Northwestern University in Chicago, which examined the “four major risk factors” and was published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” in 2012, found that one of these risk factors already increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases by a factor of ten . If several risk factors come together, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and nicotine consumption, the risk increases again dramatically.

Medical professionals strongly advise people suffering from high blood pressure to avoid other risk factors such as smoking. Almost every heart attack patient brought to the hospital now survives, but consequential damage such as heart failure or a serious cardiac arrhythmia is often left behind, which can significantly reduce life expectancy.

According to the WHO, a blood pressure of 120 (systolic) to 80 (diastolic) mm Hg is optimal for an adult. According to this definition, hypertension is used from 140 (systolic) to 90 (diastolic) mm Hg. When measuring arterial blood pressure, two values ​​are determined: the first, upper value is the systolic arterial blood pressure, which measures the pressure in the heart at the time when the heart muscle contracts as much as possible. The second value is the diastolic arterial blood pressure, which indicates the pressure when the heart muscle relaxes again.

According to the WHO, more than a billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure. Around every third adult, the values ​​are too high. Hypertension leads to around 7.6 million premature deaths annually and accounts for 35 percent of the total number of deaths in Europe. (sb)

Also read:
Too little salt increases the mortality rate for heart disease
Consumer advocates: Too much salt in children's sausages
Too much harmful salt in ready meals
Less salt prevents heart disease

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