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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Sneaky salt shock prompts calls for mandatory limits

There are calls to restrict the amount of salt in certain foods as the nation's intake is way above recommended levels but poor choices aren't always to blame.

Australians have a killer diet, prompting calls to restrict the amount of salt in certain foods.

The average Australian consumes almost double the recommended daily salt level and it's costing the healthcare system $10 billion a year, according to a report from the Grattan Institute.

However, the Sneaky Salt report says blaming individuals for poor food choices doesn't stack up as many external factors push people towards certain food products and away from others.

Three quarters of the nation's salt intake comes from food manufacturing, prompting the think tank to call on the government to introduce limits.

Voluntary limits on the amount of salt in bread and sausages were introduced in 2009 but they were poorly designed and implemented, the report says.

It calls on federal and state governments to make some maximum salt limits mandatory, increase the number of food types covered by limits and measure salt content in food from bakeries and fast-food restaurants.

It also raises the possibility of exploring whether salt should be enriched with potassium because the mineral can make food taste saltier.

Salt raises blood pressure and is linked to serious conditions including hypertension, heart disease, some cancers and stroke.

Some 2500 Australians die from illness linked to salt intake each year but the report claims the nation could collectively live an extra 36,000 years over the next two decades by cutting down.

It also claims it would help prevent 6000 hospital visits and 300 deaths per year.

What we eat is making us sicker, Grattan Institute health program director Peter Breadon said.

"If we don't improve our diets, we won't improve our health," Mr Breadon said.

"Our report shows how we can improve our diets and our health quickly and cheaply – and we won't even notice any change in the taste of our food."


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