CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

‘Excessive consumption harmful to health’ — CAPPA calls for global action on salt reduction

The Corporate Accountability for Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has urged Nigerians to reduce their salt consumption to enjoy a healthy life.

Speaking at a training organised for journalists in Lagos on Thursday, Akinbode Olufemi, executive director of CAPPA, said Nigerians must make healthy dietary choices to live longer.

He said some of these lifestyle choices include the reduction of salt intake.

“Nigeria currently consumes up to 5.8 grams of salt per day which exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) limit of 2 grams of sodium per day or less than 5 grams of sodium per day,” he said.

“Our role as civil society groups is to help the public understand the dangers in some of our dietary choices and to make people live healthy lifestyles.”

He said the training will further advance the quest that Nigerians are well-educated on the need for salt reduction and the need for the government to set mandatory salt targets in Nigeria.

On her part, Bukola Odele, a food and nutrition scientist, said the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as the primary cause of death and disability globally.

She noted that NCDs account for an estimated 29 percent of all deaths in Nigeria.

“Approximately, 2 million deaths each year are linked to a high salt diet. Salt reduction is a crucial step in lowering NCD deaths and improving cardiovascular health,” Odele said.

“High sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.”

She said lowering the burden of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria involves cost-effective public intervention in salt reduction.

On global action for salt reduction, Odele said WHO recommends the formulation of sodium-related policies and practical actions that should be implemented to reduce the burden of cardiovascular
disease.

“These include lowering sodium content in processed and packaged food; conducting mass media campaigns to alter consumer behaviour around sodium,” she said.

“Implementing front-of-pack labeling to help consumers select food products with lower sodium content and implementing public food procurement and service policies to reduce sodium content in food served or sold.”

Also speaking, Jerome Mafeni, technical director at the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), said there is a need to advocate public health policies to reduce cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria.

Mafeni said high sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Reducing sodium intake significantly reduces blood pressure in adults,” Mafeni said.

“Key salt reduction measures will generate an extra year of healthy life for a cost that falls below the average annual income or gross domestic product per person.

“Reducing salt intake to less than 5 grams per day (about 1 teaspoon) will save around 2.5 million lives every year.”

Mafeni advised measurement and monitoring of salt use, the promotion of reformulation of foods and meals to contain less salt, and implementing standards for effective and accurate labelling and marketing of food.

CAPPA urged the media to raise public awareness about the health risks associated with excessive salt intake by educating and communicating the dangers.

Source: TheCable

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