Consumer awareness and self-reported behaviours related to salt consumption in Australia
journal contributionposted on 2010-01-01, 00:00 authored by J Webster, N Li, E Dunford, Caryl NowsonCaryl Nowson, B Neal
Australians are eating far more salt than is good for health. In May 2007, the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) launched a campaign to reduce population salt intake. A consumer survey was commissioned to quantify baseline aspects of awareness and behaviour related to salt and health amongst Australians. A total of 1084 individuals aged 14 years or over were surveyed by ACA Research using an established consumer panel. Participants were selected to include people of each sex, within different age bands, from major metropolitan and other areas of all Australian states and territories. Participants were invited via email to complete a brief questionnaire online. Two-thirds knew that salt was bad for health but only 14% knew the recommended maximum daily intake. Seventy percent correctly identified that most dietary salt comes from processed foods but only a quarter regularly checked food labels for salt content. Even fewer reported their food purchases were influenced by the salt level indicated (21%). The survey showed a moderate understanding of how salt effects health but there was little evidence of action to reduce salt intake. Consumer education will be one part of the effort necessary to reduce salt intake in Australia and will require government investment in a targeted campaign to achieve improvements in knowledge and behaviours.