Report offers action plan for reducing sodium consumption in Canada

CALGARY, June 19, 2012 /CNW/ - A number of recent studies have identified a slew of health implications associated with excess sodium intake. These sorts of health problems put a drain on the health system and government balance sheets.

In a report released today by The School of Public Policy, author Lindsay McLaren proposes sodium reduction strategies that represent viable policy options for Canada.

McLaren advocates a "population-level intervention strategy" wherein efforts are taken to decrease sodium intake across the population as a whole. The author draws off of the Canadian experience with dietary sodium and international examples like Finland and the U.K. to propose a series of action points for federal and provincial governments. Her recommendations include:

  • Take a strong stand on sodium reduction federally, by setting reduction targets for the food industry, committing industry to meet the targets, and closely monitoring progress towards targets
  • Mandate national warning labels for high-sodium products
  • Implement food procurement policies within contained food service environments, such as schools, child care settings and recreation facilities, that target sodium reduction
  • Restrict food marketing to children
  • Create a dietary monitoring system that would allow for an accurate assessment of sodium intake amongst the population
  • Refine the Canadian Nutrient File to enable a more nuanced analysis of population sodium consumption
  • Amend the Food and Drug Regulations to ensure that the serving sizes used in the Nutrition Facts Table are as uniform as possible to facilitate comparison of sodium levels in similar foods, and that they align with serving sizes assumed by Canada's Food Guide

Referencing previous research that quantifies the health costs that would be saved through a population-level approach, McLaren argues that "population-level intervention is superior to clinical intervention in terms of cost-effectiveness, returning up to $11.10 for every dollar spent and generating tens of billions in direct health-care savings."

The report can be found online at www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications.

SOURCE University of Calgary - School of Public Policy

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Morten Paulsen
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University of Calgary - School of Public Policy

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