OTTAWA - The Government of Canada is concerned that the majority of Canadians are still consuming too much sodium (salt), and is taking steps to help them reduce their intake.
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Today, Health Canada released the Sodium Intake of Canadians in 2017 report. The report shows that Canadians consume an average of 2760 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, which is almost double the recommended daily amount of sodium.
"I'm concerned that sodium consumption by Canadians, especially children, remains high. That is why our government is proposing initiatives, such as front-of-package nutrition symbols, to make it easier for Canadians to make healthier choices, including choosing foods that are lower in sodium,'' said Ginette Petitpas Taylor Minister of Health.
Diets high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in Canada, after cancer. Health Canada recommends that most Canadians aim to consume 1500 mg of sodium per day, and, if they go over that amount, to limit their consumption to no more than 2300 mg per day. However, 58% of all Canadians, and 72% of Canadian children between the ages of 4 and 13 are consuming more than the recommended limits. Males have much higher intakes of sodium than females across all age groups. In fact, almost all males between the ages of 14 and 30 consume more than 2300 mg of sodium daily.
Health Canada's recent evaluation of the food industry's efforts to meet voluntary sodium reduction targets, show that voluntary sodium reduction in processed foods accounted for a decrease of 8% in average daily sodium intake between 2010 and 2017. We need to do more to help Canadians reduce their sodium consumption.
The Government of Canada is taking action. In February 2018, Health Canada introduced a regulatory proposal to require a front-of-package symbol on foods high in sodium, sugars and saturated fat. This symbol will help Canadians make healthier food choices and encourage manufacturers to reduce sodium levels in many foods.
"Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and healthy eating, plays an important role in helping to prevent chronic diseases. Reducing the amount of sodium we consume can help reduce our risk of high blood pressure—a primary risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke," said Dr. Theresa Tam Chief Public Health Officer.
As most of the sodium in Canadians' diets comes from processed foods, reducing sodium in processed and restaurant foods is a priority. To help further reduce sodium intake, Health Canada plans to develop new or revised voluntary sodium reduction targets for both prepackaged and restaurant foods, and to create a monitoring program to evaluate and report on progress.
The report that Health Canada is releasing today supports the need for continued efforts, such as those outlined in the Healthy Eating Strategy, to further reduce sodium consumption and improve health outcomes.
Canadians spend almost one third of their food budget on ready-to-eat and processed foods purchased in restaurants, cafeterias, vending machines and grocery stores. Top contributors to sodium intake in Canada include breads, processed meats, cheese, soups, and mixed dishes such as pizza. The Sodium Intake of Canadians in 2017 Report is based on the most recent national dietary intake data from Statistics Canada. It also uses the most recent information about sodium in food, and considers recent voluntary sodium reduction efforts by the food industry.
SOURCE Health Canada
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