The objective of this study was to investigate consumers’ knowledge of health risks of high salt intake and frequency of use and understanding of labelled salt information. We conducted a cross-sectional survey in shopping centres within Metropolitan Melbourne. A sample of 493 subjects was recruited. The questionnaire assessed salt related shopping behaviours, attitudes to salt intake and health and their ability to interpret labelled sodium information. Four hundred and seventy four valid surveys were collected (65% female, 64% being the main shopper). Most participants knew of the relationship between salt intake and high blood pressure (88%). Sixty five percent of participants were unable to correctly identify the relationship between salt and sodium. Sixty nine percent reported reading the salt content of food products when shopping. Salt label usage was significantly related to shoppers concern about the amount of salt in their diet and the belief that their health could improve by lowering salt intake. Approximately half of the sample was unable to accurately use labelled sodium information to pick low salt options. Raising consumer awareness of the health risks associated with high salt consumption may increase salt label usage and purchases of low salt foods. However, for food labels to be effective in helping consumers select low salt foods a more ‘user friendly’ labelling format is needed.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified