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Health groups demand reduction of sodium levels


Canada’s prominent health organizations have teamed up to push for a national plan to reduce excessive sodium consumption.

In a Globe and Mail article, the Canadian Medical Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hypertension Canada and the Canadian Stroke Network, have banded together to say failure to take action on this urgent issue sends the message that the interests of the food industry are more important than the health of Canadians.

In a letter signed by nearly two dozen health groups was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office last week, as well as to provincial and territorial premiers.

Figures show that the average Canadian consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, more than double the recommended amount of 1,500 milligrams, with some 80 per cent of the sodium Canadians consume is added to products by manufacturers.

This sodium consumption puts tens of thousands at risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease among other health problems.

The federal government created a task force that issued a comprehensive report in 2010 that suggested the establishment of maximum allowable targets for sodium in food products sold in Canada.

But after the task force was disbanded last year, the group’s recommendations also disappeared.

And while the federal government says it supports reducing the average daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams by 2016, it hasn’t advocated a plan to create reduction targets for companies to lower the amount of sodium in their products.

Experts say the government is putting interests of food companies ahead of the health of Canadians.

Derek Nighbor, senior vice-president of public and regulatory affairs at Food and Consumer Products of Canada, said in the article that the food industry is committed to reducing salt, and is continuously working to achieve goals, but the complex, scientific process will take time.

Both the World Health Organization and the United Nations have declared sodium reduction to be a major public health priority to prevent disease.

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