CRHI – SRS: Community-Based Program Helps Lower Sodium Intake in China

A community-based sodium reduction program and access to salt substitutes helped people in rural China reduce their salt intake, according to results from the China Rural Health Initiative - Sodium Reduction Study released on Nov. 18 as part of AHA 2013.

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The study randomized 120 villages from five Northern provinces in China to intervention or control. The 60 control villages received no intervention and continued with their usual practices, while the 60 intervention villages received general community health education on reduced sodium intake; specific sodium-reduction messages aimed at patients with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases; and a food supply strategy designed to promote the sale of a reduced sodium added potassium salt substitute at village convenience stores. Additionally, intervention villages were further divided at random with 30 receiving a price subsidy for the salt substitute, and 30 getting the substitute at full price, or about twice that of regular salt.

After 18 months, 20 men and women from each village were selected for evaluation. According to the researchers, those in the intervention villages saw:

  • Reduced daily sodium intake by 13 mmol (millimoles) compared with control villages.
  • Decreased daily sodium by 17 mmol in villages with price-subsidized salt substitutes.
  • Increased daily potassium intake by 7 mmol on average across all villages with the intervention.
  • Increased daily potassium intake by 9 mmol in villages with price-subsidized salt substitutes.

"We identified a low-cost, practical intervention that was effective in reducing sodium intake," said Nicole Li, PhD, study author and research fellow at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia. "The World Health Organization and other groups have identified population-based approaches to salt reduction as among the most cost-effective possible strategies for vascular disease prevention in both developed and developing countries."

The researchers are conducting a larger, five-year study in the same region to determine whether this sodium-reduction intervention impacted the incidence of high blood pressure and stroke.

Keywords: Incidence, Potassium, Stroke, China, Rural Health, Global Health, Food Supply, Sodium, Dietary, Health Education, Developing Countries, Hypertension

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