The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has confirmed that all bakeries in Qatar are committed to reduce the usage of salt by 30% as part of a voluntary initiative launched in 2014. The initiative supports and promotes a healthy lifestyle and highlights risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases resulting from excessive usage of salt.
Dr Al-Anoud bint Mohammed al-Thani, manager, health promotion and non-communicable diseases at MoPH, said the ministry co-operated with bakeries around the country to cut the use of salt in their baking.
She highlighted the success of the initiative, saying bakeries reduced the usage from 20% to 30% in their products. “The ministry periodically inspects the dough used in the production as well as the bread itself, which confirmed that the bakeries were reducing salt in
She explained that large amounts of salt in food products cause many diseases, prominently hypertension and heart and kidney diseases.
In celebration of World Salt Awareness Day, the ministry is organising several activities from March 12 to 28. The event includes educational activities highlighting the dangers of intake of large amounts of salt in foods.
She said the initiative comes as part of the goals of Qatar National Nutrition and Physical Activity Action Plan 2017-2022, and is a complementary step to the efforts of the ministry to support a healthy lifestyle in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 and in compliance with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Targets 2025.
“Studies have revealed that large salt intake results in increased rates of cardiovascular disease, blood vessels diseases and hypertension, which are considered main reasons for death in the world and in Qatar. The WHO has also recommended reduced salt intake in foods so that the average per person daily consumption is not more than
5 grams,” she said.
She revealed that the national progressive survey of non-communicable chronic diseases and its risk factors done in 2012 for Qataris between the age of 18 and 64 showed that prevalence of hypertension among females was 37.7% and 28% for males and the average rate of infection among adults was 33%. The survey also showed that 50% of the Qatari adults have three or more risk factors leading to chronic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Al-Anoud said that the Ministry of Public Health is working to involve the international institutions concerned with health and salt, as well as the health and academic institutions in Qatar to intensify efforts to reduce the ratio of people suffering from high blood pressure, referring to co-operation with World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) to develop standardised educational materials that will be circulated during the awareness week under the theme “5 Ways to Reduce 5 Grams of Salt” to present five simple guidelines on different behaviours that help reduce salt consumption.
For her part, Moudhi al-Hajri, chief of nutrition department in Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), said that salt content is particularly high in canned foods, urging people to minimise consumption of such foods.
The World Awareness Week on Reducing Salt Consumption aims at raising awareness about the health effects of high-salt diets such as cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, as well as educating the community about healthy food and healthy nutrition behaviours, in line with the National Health Strategy and the Plan of Action for the Nutrition and Physical Activity Programme 2107-2022.
The general recommendation for healthy people is that the consumption of the person should not exceed 5 grams of salt per day, with exceptions to these recommendations for some cases (kidney patients, athletes and people with high blood pressure), as these situations require medical and nutrition consultation.
She also urged the public to wash canned foods after disposal of liquids, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, gradually reduce the amount of salt added to the recipes, use of herbs and spices, garlic and citrus instead of salt to add flavour to the food. (QNA)