In its determination to address the rising health concerns linked to high salt intake, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has called on Nigerians to reduce their consumption of salt.
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, Technical Advisor, Network for Equity Health and Development, Dr. Jerome Mafini specifically urge the Nigerian government, particularly the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, responsible for health policy formulation, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC), tasked with regulating foods and drugs, to expedite the development and enforcement of regulations for salt targets in processed foods.
“This can be achieved through development and implementation of policies and regulations that mandate the reduction of salt content in commercially produced foods.
“There is also need for collaboration with relevant government agencies to establish clear guidelines and targets for salt reduction in different food categories.
There is need for mandating clear and accurate labelling of salt content on food packaging, including monitoring compliance and enforcing penalties for non-compliance to ensure the effectiveness of these regulations.”
Speaking further, Mafeni called for industry commitment.
He harped on the need to encourage food manufacturers and producers to voluntarily reduce the salt content in their products.
“Engaging industry leaders through public-private partnerships to promote responsible salt reduction practices is necessary.
“Recognizing and rewarding companies that demonstrate commitment to reducing salt content in their products will spur others to do join.”
While speaking on the need to ensure collaboration with the media on accurate reportage, Mafeni said there is need for consumer education and awareness.
“Developing and implementing comprehensive public awareness campaigns to educate consumers about the health risks associated with high salt intake and providing accessible and accurate information on how to reduce salt consumption and make healthier food choices is imperative.”
On his part, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA, said Nigeria presently records an estimated daily salt consumption reaching up to 5.8grams per day, dangerously exceeding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended limit of 2 grams of sodium per day or less than 5 grams of salt per day, which is equivalent to just one teaspoon of salt daily.
“According to the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease are the primary cause of death and disability worldwide. Hypertension, mainly caused by an increased intake of salt or sodium, accounts for 12% of deaths in Nigeria.
“These alarming statistics are not surprising given the significant changes in the Nigerian diet over the past decade. The influx of processed foods and seasonings loaded with high sodium on local market shelves and the growth of unhealthy fast-food outlets has led to a nutritional transition in the country that poses a grave risk to public health.
“Our desire, in line with our commitment and pact, is to help the public understand the dangers of their choices when it comes to food and to constantly engage with government to put in place the relevant legislations to protect Nigerians.”
On her part, Assistant Programme Manager, Sodurin Study Group, University of Abuja Vanessa Alfa said their findings revealed that most food in the market have excess salt in them.
She said most Nigerians don’t know the quantity of salt they should take daily.
“We are working with ministry of health, NAFDAC, CAPPA and other partners to address these challenges.”
Source: The Voice