Dietary sodium, the major source being salt, is associated with hypertension. Australian adults consume more than the recommended amount of salt and approximately 15% of dietary sodium comes from salt added at the table and during cooking. Objective: To determine the frequency of and the demographic characteristics associated with discretionary salt use. Design: A cross sectional survey conducted in shopping centres within Metropolitan Melbourne. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing discretionary salt use and attitudes to salt intake. Outcomes: Four hundred and seventy four surveys were collected (65% female, 77% Caucasian, 64% holding a university qualification). Eighty nine percent of respondents were classified as salt users and 11% as non-salt users. Of the salt users 52% reported that they always or sometimes add salt during cooking and at the table. Those of Asian descent and younger respondents aged 18-24 years were more likely to be salt users (chi2=12.3, df=2, p<0.001; chi2=19.2, df=5, p<0.01). Conclusion: Discretionary salt use remains high. To successfully reduce population dietary salt intake public health campaigns are urgently required and need to include consumer advice to reduce discretionary salt use, whilst reducing the salt added to processed foods. Such campaigns should include younger age groups and should be appropriate for all ethnic backgrounds to raise the awareness of the risks of a high salt diet on health.
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Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
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