Ghana Joins World Heart Celebration

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World Heart Day
World Heart Day

As part of activities marking World Heart Day, which falls on September 29, World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging countries to take action on the overuse of salt by implementing the organisation?s sodium reduction recommendations.

World Heart Day
World Heart Day

This according to the WHO is to cut the number of people experiencing heart disease and stroke, and, in turn, save lives.

A statement issued by Christian Lindmeier of WHO Department of Communications and copied to Ghana News Agency on Thursday said non communicable diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of premature death in the 21st century.

It said WHO is supporting governments to implement the global action plan to reduce non communicable diseases that comprises nine global targets, including one to reduce global salt intake by a relative 30 per cent by 2025.

?If the target to reduce salt by 30 per cent globally by 2025 is achieved, millions of lives can be saved from heart disease, stroke and related conditions,? said Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non communicable Diseases and Mental Health.

The statement said the main source of sodium in diets is salt, which could come from sodium glutamate and sodium chloride, and is used as a condiment in many parts of the world.

It noted that in many countries, 80 per cent of salt intake comes from processed foods such as bread, cheese, bottled sauces, cured meats and ready-made meals.

The statement said consuming too much salt could lead or contribute to hypertension, or high blood pressure, and greatly increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

It said on average, people consume around 10 grams of salt per day; this is around double WHO?s recommended level from all sources, including processed foods, ready-made meals and food prepared at home, which is less than 5 grams or under one teaspoon per day.

WHO recommends that children from two to 15 years consume even less salt than those adjusted to their energy requirements for growth.

?Salt is in almost everything we eat, either because high levels of salt are found in most processed and prepared foods, or because we are adding salt when we prepare food at home,? Dr Chestnov said.

He said reducing salt intake is one of the most effective ways for countries to improve population health, and urged the food industry to work closely with WHO and national governments to incrementally reduce the level in food products.

WHO?s evidence-based strategies to reduce salt consumption include regulations and policies to ensure that food manufacturers and retailers cut the levels in food and beverage products; and agreements with the industry to ensure that manufacturers and retailers make healthy food with low salt available and affordable.

Others are fostering healthy eating environments that promote salt reduction in public places such as schools, hospitals, workplaces and public institutions and ensuring clear food labelling so consumers could easily understand the level of salt in products

It also include implementing WHO?s recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children.

According to the WHO strategies for individuals and families to reduce salt intake include reading food labels when buying processed food to check salt levels and asking for products with less salt when buying prepared food.

This also covers removing salt dispensers and bottled sauces from dining tables and limiting the amount of salt added in cooking to a total maximum amount a fifth of a teaspoon over the course of a day.

Others are limiting frequent consumption of high salt products and guiding children?s taste buds through a diet of mostly unprocessed foods without adding salt.

GNA

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