Potential effect of salt reduction in processed foods on health

Hendriksen, M.A.H.; Hoogenveen, R.T.; Hoekstra, J.; Geleijnse, J.M.; Boshuizen, H.C.; Raaij, J.M.A. van


Background: Excessive salt intake has been associated with hypertension and increased cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Reducing salt intake is considered an important public health strategy in the Netherlands. Objective: The objective was to evaluate the health benefits of salt-reduction strategies related to processed foods for the Dutch population. Design: Three salt-reduction scenarios were developed: 1) substitution of high-salt foods with low-salt foods, 2) a reduction in the sodium content of processed foods, and 3) adherence to the recommended maximum salt intake of 6 g/d. Health outcomes were obtained in 2 steps: after salt intake was modeled into blood pressure levels, the Chronic Disease Model was used to translate modeled blood pressures into incidences of cardiovascular diseases, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and life expectancies. Health outcomes of the scenarios were compared with health outcomes obtained with current salt intake. Results: In total, 4.8% of acute myocardial infarction cases, 1.7% of congestive heart failure cases, and 5.8% of stroke cases might be prevented if salt intake meets the recommended maximum intake. The burden of disease might be reduced by 56,400 DALYs, and life expectancy might increase by 0.15 y for a 40-y-old individual. Substitution of foods with comparable low-salt alternatives would lead to slightly higher salt intake reductions and thus to more health gain. The estimates for sodium reduction in processed foods would be slightly lower. Conclusion: Substantial health benefits might be achieved when added salt is removed from processed foods and when consumers choose more low-salt food alternatives.