OTTAWA, Nov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The longer Canada delays measures to
reduce dietary sodium, the greater the risk to Canadians, says the
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The Foundation calls on the
federal government to begin implementing recommendations laid out by
the Sodium Working Group in July 2010.
Sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure - the number one
risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease.
About six million adult Canadians have high blood pressure.
Despite several recent scientific reports questioning the connection
between dietary sodium and cardiovascular health, there is in fact a
wide-body of evidence that demonstrates the link between high sodium
consumption and heart disease and stroke. The connection is real.
It is estimated that one in seven deaths from stroke and one in 11
deaths from coronary heart disease could be prevented if Canadians
reduced their sodium intake by 1,840 mg per day (roughly ¾ tsp).1
On average, Canadians consume too much sodium. Our levels well exceed
what is recommended by international agencies and Health Canada. The
average Canadian consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, the vast
majority of which is contained in processed foods.
"Recent studies questioning the link between high sodium intake and
elevated blood pressure are far from compelling and do not warrant a
change in current thinking and practice about limiting sodium
consumption in the Canadian population," says Bobbe Wood, President of
the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "Downplaying the sodium
blood pressure connection is dangerous especially if it discourages
Canadians from taking the simple step of consuming less salt."
According to the Foundation, these studies if broadly misinterpreted can
undo years of public information on the benefits of sodium reduction.
Reducing sodium to the levels recommended by the federally appointed
Sodium Working Group will reduce the number of heart attacks in Canada
and save lives. In 2010 the federal, provincial and territorial (FPT)
ministers of health called for the adoption of the interim goal of
reducing the sodium intake of Canadians to 2,300 milligrams per day by
2016, and the implementation of voluntary industry targets and
monitoring for sodium reduction.
This November's meeting of the FPT health ministers will provide an
excellent opportunity for governments to propose critical next steps in
this area. The Foundation urges the federal government to establish
sodium reduction targets for packaged foods and an accompanying
monitoring mechanism as soon as possible.
"Other developed countries have instituted sodium reduction plans and
are seeing the benefits," says Wood.
In Canada, it has been estimated that a decrease in the average sodium
intake of about 1,800 mg per day would prevent 23,500 cardiovascular
disease events per year - a decrease of 13 percent, resulting in a
total of direct and indirect health care savings of $2.99 billion per
The Heart and Stroke Foundation works with government, industry, health
partners, and through our Health Check™ food information program to
reduce sodium in our foods, and to remind Canadians of the link between
nutrition and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. To meet
Health Check criteria 14 companies removed 500,000 kg of salt from
their products in just four years. The Foundation also continues to
fund and support research to improve healthy eating.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation encourages Canadians to prepare their
meals at home and eat as much fresh food as possible, limit their
consumption of processed foods, eat five to 10 servings of fruit and
vegetables a day, eat lower-fat products, and include items from the
four food groups. Healthy recipes can be found online at
heartandstroke.ca and in the free Health Check Recipe Helper app at
The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease
and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of
research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and
1 Whelton PK, Jian H, Lawrence J, Appel LJ et al. Primary Prevention of
Hypertension. Clinical and Public Health Advisory from the National
High Blood Pressure Education Program". JAMA, 2002;288(15):1882-1888.
SOURCE HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION OF CANADA
For further information:
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Eileen Melnick McCarthy
613.569.4361 ext. 318