Australian men are still eating almost twice the amount of salt they should every day, and Aussie women are not too far behind.
A new study by Australian researchers suggests health warnings about the link between high-salt diets and cardiovascular disease simply have not worked.
Sydney’s George Institute for Global Health has analysed data from more than 30 salt-intake studies carried out between 1989 and 2015 and involving almost 17000 people.
Despite public warnings about the risks of salt-laden diets, there was no evidence that intake had dropped.
The analysis found Aussie men are still consuming 10.1g a day — more than double the 5g the World Health Organisation recommends.
Aussie women are not doing much better, at 7.34g a day.
‘‘We couldn’t find any evidence that salt consumption has gone down,’’ Professor Bruce Neal, who led the study, said.
‘‘It’s good that it didn’t go up either, but it’s disappointing that we could not detect a fall.’’
Prof Neal said public health messaging about the dangers of salt had been weak to date, and focused on food avoidance and improved cooking methods.
‘‘But we know, in a society like Australia, where most of the food people eat is packaged or bought at a restaurant the salt is hidden.
‘‘If you ask someone at a restaurant they won’t know, and on packaged foods salt is listed, but it’s presented in a way that is incomprehensible to some people.’’
He believes meaningful change is far more likely to result from health authorities ramping up engagement with food producers to reduce salt in their products.
‘‘We really do need to change the food supply — along with letting people know what they should be doing — but the challenge is that’s unfashionable because everyone sees that as the nanny state,’’ Prof Neal said.
‘‘It’s a strange situation where we’re happy to have big business influencing our choices through advertising that’s everywhere, but we’re very unhappy with the suggestion that government might step in and do that — hence the current debate about the sugar tax.’’
The research has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia.