The number of deaths from cardiovascular disease has fallen considerably in England over the last decade. A new study carried out by the Queen Mary University of London has now looked at whether this is linked toa reduction in average dietary salt intake during the same period. Between 2003 and 2011, average salt intake fell by 15% in England, and deaths from heart disease and stroke fell by around 40%.
The data for the new study was provided by the Health Survey for England, which included more than 31,500 adult respondents. The average salt intake for the population was calculated using the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which took urine samples from almost 3,000 randomly selected people between 2003 and 2011. The researchers found that daily salt intake had fallen by an average of 1.4 g (from 9.5 g to 8.1 g) during this period. The study concludes that the reduction in salt intake is likely to be an important contributor to the falls in blood pressure in England from 2003 to 2011 and that as a result, the decrease in salt intake would have played an important role in the reduction in stroke and ischemic heart disease mortality during this period.
As well as a fall in salt intake, the survey measured falls in average cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking prevalence although average body mass index had risen slightly. Fruit and vegetable consumption had increased..
However, 70% of the adult population of England were shown to still be consuming more than the UK's recommended daily amount of 6 g of salt per day, with 80% of this intake coming from processed foods.
The study is published in BMJ Open.