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Why India should cut down on its salt intake

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health


Source: TH

 Context: Excessive sodium (salt) intake contributes to the rise of hypertension, heart disease and stroke.


Why is it essential to reduce sodium intake?

  • Salt reduction is a cost-effective and practical approach to preventing cardiovascular disease (the foremost cause of mortality worldwide).
    • Reduced sodium intake → decreased blood pressure → decrease in stroke and heart attack incidences.
  • Staggering economic impact of cardiovascular disease on low- and middle-income countries: ~2% of the GDP of LMICs due to premature mortality and disability.


India Scenario: Average sodium consumption is more than double the physiological need and exceeds the WHO’s recommended daily intake of <5 g of salt for adults.

Global EffortsChallenges
●       The WHO’s “Global Report on Sodium Intake Reduction” report details the 194 member states’ efforts toward a 30% reduction in (population) sodium intake by 2025.

●       The WHO devised a sodium score, ranging from 1 (least) to 4 (highest implementation), based on the extent of implementation of sodium reduction measures.

With only a few countries making considerable headway, there is a proposal to extend the deadline from 2025 to 2030.


India Effort
●       The Union government has initiated several voluntary programmes aimed at encouraging Indians to decrease their sodium consumption.

●       Eat Right India’s movement: FSSAI strives to transform the nation’s food system to ensure secure, healthy, and sustainable nutrition for all citizens.

●       Aaj Se Thoda Kam: A social campaign launched by FSSAI.


●       Cardiovascular diseases have emerged as the primary cause of mortality and morbidity.

○       The WEF projects that the Indian economy faces losses surpassing $2 trillion between 2012 and 2030 due to such diseases.

●       Hypertension has been identified as the leading risk factor for such diseases.

○       More prevalent among men aged 15 and above compared to women.

○       More common in southern States.

○       Circulatory system diseases account for 32.1% of all documented deaths, with hypertension being a major risk factor.

●       The pre-hypertensive population warrants attention.

●       India’s score of 2 (in the WHO’s sodium score) signifies the presence of at least one voluntary policy, emphasizing the need for more rigorous efforts to address this health concern.


Way ahead:

  • India needs a comprehensive national strategy to curb salt consumption.
  • A multi-pronged approach, engaging consumers, industry, and the government, is crucial.
  • Collaboration between State and Union governments is essential to combat hypertension.


Insta Links:

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)