OTTAWA, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Society of Internal Medicine (CSIM) has endorsed a national initiative to reduce dietary sodium intake across the Canadian population. In 2007, the CSIM joined a group of 18 major national health organizations to advocate for awareness and policy measures to reduce salt consumption. The average Canadian consumes 3,400 mg of sodium daily, roughly twice the daily requirements, and 80% of this comes from salt added during food manufacturing and processing. "Reducing dietary sodium will likely save lives and reduces health care costs, but is only achievable by reducing sodium in processed foods. Without external pressure, the food industry is unlikely to make meaningful progress. The health care system does not work in a vacuum - coordinated, strategic and pragmatic actions throughout government lay the foundations for health" stated Dr. Bert Govig, a Past-President of CSIM and current Vice-President of the CSIM Health Promotion Committee.
The Canadian government reacted positively and committed to develop an effective program. The 'planned program' - four years in the making with strong support from the provincial and territorial governments and extensive consultation with industry - was suddenly halted. Specifically, the Federal Government is backing away both from assessing the effectiveness of industry reductions in sodium additives to foods and from holding industry accountable - the critical components of the plan. How committed is the current administration to promoting the health of Canadians? Does the "about face" represent a change in government priorities? The CSIM would like to see more disclosure on the drivers behind this policy change, and a clear affirmation of government's commitment to health including what concrete actions are planned to address our society's excessive sodium intake.
Recently a letter signed by 19 major national health organizations, including the CSIM, landed on the Prime Minister's desk urging implementation of a pragmatic and cost-effective policy that would prevent cardiovascular disease and save lives. Read about it here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/health-news/harper-must-demand-action-on-sodium-levels-health-groups-urge/article2296439/
Functional health care systems must be evidence-based, transparent and collaborative. Anything less is inefficient and sub-optimal. CSIM President Dr. Maria Bacchus says "The CSIM believes that we have a collective responsibility to act in the best interests of Canadians and the health care system." Salt reduction is one strategy that pays off in more ways than one. With an estimated 40,000 fewer hospitalizations due to stroke, heart attack, and heart failure every year, it saves substantial health care resources. More importantly, it can potentially save up to 14,000 lives every year.
For further information:
Canadian Society of Internal Medicine