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Less salty diets would save millions of lives

PARIS (AFP) – Reducing salt intake worldwide by only ten percent could save millions of lives, a study reported Wednesday.

Government-led public service campaigns could massively cut mortality and disability caused by salt-triggered heart attacks and strokes for just over 10 US cents a year per person, researchers calculated.

Even without including healthcare savings, “we found that a government supported, national policy to reduce population sodium intake by 10 percent over 10 years would be cost effective,” the authors concluded in the medical journal BMJ.

Most adults exceed the recommended maximum salt levels of 2 grams per day, resulting in 1.65 million deaths from heart disease every year, according to the World Health Organization.

Research has shown that national policies to curb salt consumption can reduce the number of people affected by high blood pressure and heart disease.

But few countries around the world have assessed the costs of implementing such programs.

The study concluded that cutting salt intake over a decade would avoid about 5.8 million DALYs every year, at an average per person cost of $1.13 over the 10-year period.

The cost for each year of healthy life gained was roughly the same as what is currently spent on drugs used to prevent cardiovascular disease, they noted.

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