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Dangerously high salt consumption has persisted in China for decades

Dangerously high salt consumption has persisted in China for decades. New research led by the Queen Mary University of London has confirmed that salt intake in China has ranked among the highest in the world for the past four decades. Chinese adults consume an average of 10 grams of salt per day, which is more than double the daily limit for sodium recommended by the World Health Organization. 

The statistical analysis combined the results of every relevant scientific study. The results also showed that Chinese children between the ages of three and six are eating five grams of salt per day, while older children are eating almost nine grams per day.

Excessive salt intake raises blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, which accounts for about 40 percent of fatalities in China. Dangerously high salt consumption has persisted in China for decades

The data reviewed by the team involved around 26,000 adults and 900 children from across the country. While salt intake has been declining in northern China, it has been increasing in southern China. 

“Salt intake in northern China declined, but is still over double the maximum intake recommended by the WHO, while salt intake actually increased in southern China,” said study co-author Professor Feng J He. 

“Most of the salt consumed in China comes from the salt added by the consumers themselves while cooking. However, there is now a rapid increase in the consumption of processed foods and of food from street markets, restaurants, and fast food chains, and this must be addressed before the hard-won declines are offset.”

Unlike sodium, potassium has a positive effect on blood pressure. However, individuals of all age groups in China were found to consume less than half the recommended minimum potassium intake during the study period. 

“Urgent action is needed in China to speed up salt reduction and increase potassium intake,” said study lead author Monique Tan. “High blood pressure in childhood tracks into adulthood, leading to cardiovascular disease. If you eat more salt whilst you are young, you are more likely to eat more salt as an adult, and to have higher blood pressure. These incredibly high salt, and low potassium, figures are deeply concerning for the future health of the Chinese population.”

The analysis was funded by the National Institute for Health.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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Image Credit: Shutterstock/Krasula

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