Strategy calls for a three-pronged approach for reducing sodium intakes

Government, food industry and health organizations collaborate on landmark Canadian strategy

OTTAWA, July 29 /CNW Telbec/ - The federally-mandated Sodium Working Group has released the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada. The three-pronged strategy contains six over-arching and 27 specific recommendations for a population health strategy for reducing sodium intake among Canadians.

"The Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada is a multi-staged, three-pronged approach that includes structured, voluntary reduction of sodium levels in processed food products and foods sold in restaurant and food service establishments; education and awareness for consumers, industry, health professionals and other key stakeholders; and support for research," explained Dr. Mary L'Abbé, Earle W. McHenry Professor, and Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine University of Toronto and Vice-Chair of the Sodium Working Group. "A successful outcome depends on action in all areas. They cannot be separated from one another."

The strategy is the culmination of over two years of work by the Sodium Working Group which was established in late 2007 by the then-federal Minister of Health to develop a population health strategy for reducing sodium intake among Canadians. The group includes twenty-five representatives from food manufacturing and food service industry groups, health-focused non-governmental organizations, the scientific community, consumer advocacy groups, health professional organizations and government representatives.

Sodium consumption is a major public health issue in Canada. The average Canadian consumes 3,400 mg of sodium per day. That's more than double what we need.

There is a significant body of evidence linking high sodium intake to elevated blood pressure, which is the leading preventable risk factor for death worldwide. High blood pressure is the major cause of cardiovascular disease and a risk factor for stroke and kidney disease. There is also evidence to suggest that a diet high in sodium is a risk factor for osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.

Lowering sodium intake can lead to reductions in the disease and associated healthcare costs.

"The Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada has an interim sodium intake goal of a population average of 2,300 mg of sodium per day to be achieved by 2016," explained Dr. Norm Campbell, Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Calgary, Director Hypertension Canada and member of the Sodium Working Group's Steering Committee. "The ultimate goal is to lower sodium intake for as many individuals as possible below the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 2,300 mg per day."

The process of reducing the sodium content of foods is complex since the role and function of salt and other sodium-based ingredients in foods varies, depending on the nature of the food. Salt is used as flavouring, a preservative and an antibacterial agent. It also has many effects on the texture and structure of foods.

"The release of the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canadians marks the beginning of a process that will lower the dietary sodium intake of Canadians," says Phyllis Tanaka, Vice-President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Food and Consumer Products of Canada and member of the Sodium Working Group's Steering Committee. "The Strategy is a consensus report. Action on all three prongs is essential to the success of the Strategy."

For more information about the Sodium Working Group and the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada, visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/sodium/sodium-working-travail-group-eng.php.

SOURCE SODIUM WORKING GROUP

For further information: For further information: Karen Bennett, Senior Consultant, Delta Media Inc., 613-233-9191, karen@deltamedia.ca; Martin Leroux, Senior Consultant, Delta Media Inc., 613-233-9191, martin@deltamedia.ca

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SODIUM WORKING GROUP

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