Governments should force companies to curb salt content in processed foods, rather than leaving it up to food manufacturers to voluntary regulate salt levels, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia came to this conclusion after measuring the public health benefits and cost effectiveness of three different salt reduction strategies: dietary advice, voluntary incentives and mandatory limits. The first two interventions only had minimal impacts, according to the authors’ theoretical model, but forcing companies to reduce salt content cut ill-health from heart disease by 18%.
“If we rely on companies to voluntarily reduce salt content, there would be some benefit,” study author Linda Cobiac told Reuters. “But benefits from mandatory cuts would be 20 times greater.” The results were published online this week in the journal Heart.
One way to help food makers reduce salt levels in their bread, margarine, potato chips and other products while maintaining the same flavor is to use newer low-sodium alternatives. To read more about technological solutions for cutting back on the tabletop seasoning, be sure to check out our news feature ‘Parse the Salt’ from the August issue of Nature Medicine.