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Aug 27, 2014 09:36 AM EDT

Poor Britons Eat More Salt Than Rich Ones, Study

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Britons from low socio-economic backgrounds consume more salt than those from higher socio-economic positions, according to a University of Warvick study.

The researchers said that social inequalities in salt intake have barely changed in the last decade despite national salt reduction programs.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the association between dietary salt intake and manual occupations and educational attainments - indicators of socio-economic position and key determinants of health.

They used the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2008-11), involving 1,027 men and women aged 19-64 years. Salt intake was measured with a 4-day food diary. The addition of salt at the table and during cooking was not considered.

The researchers observed a significant reduction in dietary salt consumption from 2000-1 to 2008-11 of 0.9g of salt per day. The figure is in line with the overall reduction in salt consumption of 1.4g per day, nationally.

"Whilst we are pleased to record an average national reduction in salt consumption coming from food of nearly a gram per day, we are disappointed to find out that the benefits of such a program have not reached those most in need. These results are important as people of low socio-economic background are more likely to develop high blood pressure (hypertension) and to suffer disproportionately from strokes, heart attacks and renal failure," Professor Francesco Cappuccio, senior author and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre, said in a press release.

Cappuccio further said that the diet of disadvantaged socio-economic groups tend to be of low-quality, salt-dense, high-fat, high-calorie unhealthy cheap foods. Despite policies raising awareness campaigns, food reformulation and monitoring; poorer households continue to be associated with less healthy shopping baskets and foods high in salt.

"In our continued effort to reduce population salt intake towards a 6g per day target in Britain, it is crucial to understand the reasons for these social inequalities so as to correct this gap for an equitable and cost-effective delivery of cardiovascular prevention", Cappuccio concluded.

The finding is published in the BMJ Open journal.                                       

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