Intended for healthcare professionals


Tackling salt consumption outside the home

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 12 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1087
  1. Martin Caraher, professor of food and health policy1,
  2. Nick Hughes, food journalist and editor2
  1. 1Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, London, UK
  2. 2London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M Caraher m.caraher{at}

Tougher policies are required to make fast food healthier

Salt has traditionally been used in food for preservation and to enhance taste. Modern processing techniques and cold storage have reduced the importance of salt’s role as a preservative, but it is still used widely as a flavour enhancer and to provide a contrast with a sweet palate experience.1 High levels of salt in the diet are linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and coronary heart disease. In the UK, despite reformulation programmes dating back to 2006, the average amount of salt consumed by the population is still too high—8 g/day rather than the recommended 6 g/day for adults.2 Some communities are also more likely to consume higher levels of salt, especially people living in more deprived localities,3 where fast food enterprises tend to congregate.45

Reformulation programmes to reduce salt in food products have historically relied on voluntary action by …

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