Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Reduced salt intake

Sodium reduction is enticing, but what is the full recipe?

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 10 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:967
  1. Paul P Glasziou, professor of evidence based medicine
  1. University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 8AY
  1. paul.glasziou{at}

    Reading the study of the long term effects of dietary sodium reduction on a Friday evening, I wondered whether it could help my hypertensive patients on Monday morning.1 Unfortunately not: the prescription for sodium reduction is not usable by my fellow general practitioners: “Individual and weekly group counselling sessions were offered initially, with less intensive counselling and support thereafter, specific to sodium reduction.”

    How do I translate this vague description for my patients? Those rare clinicians diligent enough to track down reference 23 would find a fuller, but still insufficient, description.2 It still misses so many details that I (or a dietitian) would need that I don't know how to replicate it. But there is sufficient detail to show that this form of salt reduction is probably impractical in primary care.

    The accompanying Editor's Choice says, “You might try talking salt in your next consultation,”3 but that does not seem viable on the basis of either this paper or the previous publications. That is a pity. As a fan of non-drug interventions, I'd like to be able to share them with my patients. But so often the description of what clinicians and patients need to do is so woefully inadequate that it is unusable. If authors are interested in uptake, they need to make interventions practical and provide sufficient details and materials. In the internet world, space limitations are no longer an excuse.


    • Competing interests: None declared.


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