Canada urgently needs a sodium reduction program: InterAmerican Heart Foundation

DALLAS, TX, July 19, 2012 /CNW/ - The InterAmerican Heart Foundation (IAHF) urges the Government of Canada to monitor industry compliance of the sodium levels set out in Health Canada's new Guidance for the Food Industry on Reducing Sodium in Processed Foods, which gives guidance to the food industry for lowering the sodium levels in processed foods.

It is laudable that the Canadian federal government has committed to meeting a target of 2,300 mg/day average sodium intake by 2016, as recommended by its Sodium Working Group and that it has acted to establish sodium reduction targets.

"A sodium reduction program is integral to the health of the nation," says Beatriz Champagne, IAHF executive director. "Canada needs to establish an accompanying monitoring mechanism with established timelines to track whether sodium reductions are being achieved. Immediate action will save lives."

She notes that although education programs are important, relying only on these programs and the goodwill of industry to reduce dietary sodium is both expensive and is limited in impact and duration.

Reduction in dietary sodium has been identified as one of the most cost-effective measures to improve health and has been recommended as a 'best buy' to prevent chronic disease by the World Health Organization.

"Many countries in the Americas have looked to Canada for leadership on sodium reduction," says Champagne. "To assume such a leadership role, the InterAmerican Heart Foundation urges the Canadian government to establish a monitoring and evaluation system as soon as possible."

Sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure - the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. Three in 10 Canadians have been diagnosed with high blood pressure caused by eating too much sodium.

"Sodium levels are much too high in the Canadian diet," says IAHF board member Dr. Salvador Cruz. "About six million adult Canadians have high blood pressure. By reducing sodium levels to those recommended by the Sodium Working Group, the number of strokes ─ the third leading cause of death in Canada ─ would decrease, resulting in reduced death and disability in thousands of Canadians."

About the InterAmerican Heart Foundation (IAHF)
The InterAmerican Heart Foundation is dedicated to promoting health and reducing heart diseases and stroke in the Americas through education, advocacy and research. It has three affiliates in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Kingston, Jamaica, and members in almost all countries of the region. Its initiatives include the Healthy Latin America Coalition in support of the United Nations Political Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Latin American Action for Salt and Health (ALASS), "Community Interventions for Health," in Mexico City addressing diet, physical activity and tobacco; dietary salt reduction awareness campaigns; and evaluation of processed foods composition. Its "Smokefree Mexico" program resulted in Mexico City becoming 100% smoke free. The InterAmerican Heart Foundation also spearheaded initiatives such as tobacco warning labels in the Caribbean and Central America, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Journalism Awards, tobacco control research, emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) networks and training, smoking cessation training for health professionals, and women and heart disease campaigns, among others. It conducted the CARMELA Study of seven Latin American cities to evaluate risk factors of heart disease. The Foundation received the 2009 Luther L. Terry Awards for Exemplary Leadership in Tobacco Control. It supports Global Advocacy for Physical Activity and INWAT, International Network of Women against Tobacco.

SOURCE InterAmerican Heart Foundation (IAHF)

For further information:

For media inquiries, please contact:
Name: Javier Valenzuela
Phone: 214-706-1354

Beatriz Marcet Champagne, Executive Director.
Javier Valenzuela, Project Manager.

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