The new enemy is salt. Here is an interesting example at an early stage of how calls for legislation leap from study to implementation. A survey has looked at salt.
In the paper, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues, from the University of California, San Francisco, USA, undertook a computer simulation showing the effects of population wide reductions of dietary salt intakes in all adults aged 35 to 85 years in the USA. Reducing dietary salt intake by 3 g per day (1200mg less sodium per day) could result in 60,000 to 120,000 fewer cases of heart disease , 32,000 to 66,000 fewer strokes and 54,000 to 100,000 fewer heart attacks.
Just one study and even then, dietary recommendations are notorious for lack of reliability. But the recommendation follows like day after night:
A reduction in dietary salt of 3g per day, the authors went on to say, would have approximately the same effect on reducing cardiac events as a 50 % reduction in tobacco use, a 5% reduction in body mass index among obese adults or the use of statins to treat people at low or intermediate risk for CHD events. Furthermore, reducing dietary salt intakes by 3g per day would save $10 billion to $ 24 billion in annual health care costs
Precise, costed benefits that bear little resemblance to reality, but a comparison with the other devils of public health is utilised to define a ‘collective benefit’. Thus the call for legislation by the European Society of Cardiology:
While individuals may use salt sparingly at home, around 75 % of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy. This, says the ESC, underlines the need for legislation to lay down guidelines. “The reality of international food production in Europe means that such public health initiatives need to be tackled on a European wide basis, rather than an individual country basis,” said [Professor Frank] Ruschitzka.
Throw in a publicity week and the NGO for good measure:
Salt will again be on the agenda with World Salt Awareness Week 2010 , which runs from February 1- 7 (3). The week is being run by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), a global group that works with governments to highlight the need for widespread introduction of population based salt reduction strategies