Early evidence for the effectiveness of South Africa’s legislation on salt restriction in foods: the African-PREDICT study
Journal of Human Hypertension
South Africa was among the first countries to adopt mandatory regulation in 2016 to lower the salt content in processed foods, aiming to reduce population salt intake to <5 g/day. To assess the effectiveness of this regulation in 20-30 year-old adults, we determined the change in salt intake over a mean follow-up time of 4.56-years spanning the implementation of the regulation. This observational study included baseline (2013–2016; N = 668; 24.9 ± 3 years; 47.8% black; 40.7% men) and follow-up data (2018—ongoing; N = 311; 25.4 ± 3.05 years; 51.1% black; 43.4% men) for participants of the African-PREDICT study. Salt intake was estimated from 24-h urinary sodium excretion. Median salt intake at baseline (N = 668) was 7.88 g/day (IQR: 5.67). In those followed (N = 311), salt intake reduced from baseline [median (IQR): 7.91 g/day (5.83)] to follow-up [7.26 g/day (5.30)] [unadjusted median: –0.82 g/day]. After adjusting for baseline salt intake to address regression to the mean, the mean salt reduction was –1.2 g/day. The greatest reductions were in men [mean difference: –1.47 g/day], black adults [mean difference: –2.04 g/day], and participants from low [mean difference: –1.89 g/day] or middle [mean difference: –1.84 g/day] socio-economic status groups, adjusting for baseline salt intake. Our preliminary findings suggest that South Africa’s salt regulation has been effective in lowering salt intake in young adults by ~1.2 g salt/day. Our study supports the effectiveness of upstream interventions to lower population salt intake, particularly for vulnerable groups who may typically consume more processed foods. It needs to be determined if the legislation has the anticipated population health gains.
Open Access Status
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