Scientists find law best at reducing dangerous levels of salt in food

Legal limits on salt levels in food are 20 times more effective at reducing heart disease than voluntary measures, it is claimed.Scientists in Australia came to the conclusion after assessing the public health benefits and cost effectiveness of different salt restriction strategies. They examined an Australian marketing programme that encourages food manufacturers to reduce salt content in products.

The team also looked at the likely impact of mandatory curbs on salt, which is said to increase the risk of heart and artery disease.The researchers costed the different strategies in terms of their impact on years of good health over a lifetime, and the associated long-term healthcare savings.

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They took into consideration the salt content of bread, margarine, and cereals, amount sold, consumption, the cost of legislation and evidence from healthcare professionals. The findings are published today in the journal Heart.