There could soon be a cap on how much
salt is put in your fries. Raising taxes on products containing
salt would reduce the incidence of stroke by 4% and heart attack
by about 2% in India.
A study, presented at the World Congress on Cardiology in
Dubai on Saturday by researchers from Harvard Medical School,
says voluntary industry reductions in salt content and taxation
on products containing salt in 19 developing countries,
including India, could reduce the number of deaths each year
from cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 3% in these nations. Salt
is known to cause high blood pressure or hypertension that is
responsible for 57% of deaths due to stroke and 24% of mortality
caused by heart attack in India.
Sodium makes blood vessels less able to expand and contract
and may toughen heart cells. The World Health Organization (WHO)
says an adult should not consume more than 5gm of salt a day.
However, an Indian, on an average, consumes doubles the
prescribed intake — 10gm of salt a day.
Experts say just by reducing salt consumption, India can
reduce incidents of stroke by 25% and heart attacks by 10%. Dr K
Srinath Reddy, president of the World Heart Federation, said,
“People will have to be educated on reducing salt use while
cooking, besides giving up the habit of adding table salt in
their food. We will also have to ensure that processed foods
don’t contain high salt levels.”
The Harvard study found that a salt tax would save money by
reducing the number of people needing treatment for hypertension
and CVD events such as heart attacks and stroke.