SALT POLICY COULD BE “A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN”
One of the world’s top nutritionists has arrived in the UK with a stark warning to the Government: “your policy on salt could prove to be the next major public health disaster”.
[UKPRwire, Fri Jul 27 2007] One of the world’s top nutritionists has arrived in the UK with a stark warning to the Government: “your policy on salt could prove to be the next major public health disaster”.
Dr David McCarron, an internationally recognised and independent authority on the role of diet in heart disease, believes that the UK population is being put at risk by the Government’s scientifically-unfounded blanket advice to cut back on salt. In a letter to Health Minister, Alan Johnson, he says: “Recent experience over Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and trans-fats demonstrates all too clearly that you cannot put a fundamental public health policy into place without proper controlled trials. If you do, you are putting lives at risk.
“Assumptions were made that HRT reduced the risk of heart attacks and cancer, and that all women benefited. The reality now that they have finally commissioned large-scale trials is that there is an increased stroke risk at initiation and a greater cancer risk than was ever recognised.
“It’s a similar story with trans-fats. The absence of proper trials was equally responsible for the fact that it took 40 years to act in eliminating trans- fats from the food supply. Previous public health policy had an adverse outcome that affected the whole population.”
Dr McCarron adds that public health policy on salt has been based on results extrapolated from studies that were set up to look at other factors.
He says: “Simple reasoning can get you into trouble if you don’t do the right studies and ask the right questions. What is needed is a long-term, large-scale, carefully constructed controlled trial with a hypothesis of ‘does a low-sodium diet improve life-expectancy?’
“No public health policy should be implemented unless it’s been proven to work. At the moment, the British public is being asked to follow advice that has not been proven to reduce heart attacks or strokes. People deserve to know whether a low-sodium diet will mean that they are going to live longer or not.”
Dr McCarron is today (Wednesday 25th July) putting his concerns to Professor Judy Buttriss, Director General designate at the British Nutrition Foundation. He will tell her that he believes the UK’s current “obsession” with salt is “irrelevant” and that the real challenge in tackling high blood pressure is to improve overall dietary quality. Mineral deficiency is, he firmly believes, a much more significant cause of high blood pressure.
Whilst in London Dr McCarron will also be talking about childhood obesity in America.
The DASH sodium trial in the US demonstrated unequivocally that even in subjects with high blood pressure and at increased risk of exhibiting sensitivity to salt, their blood pressure was uninfluenced by salt intake as long as their fruit, vegetable and dairy intake was sufficient, he says.
Dr McCarron adds: “Seat belts save lives, exercising saves lives – these are good public health policies. Do we know that a low sodium diet saves lives? No, we don’t. The secondary evidence from trials so far says that there’s no benefit and there may be harm – these studies do not support a benefit to public health.
“My view is that it is very likely that low salt will ultimately prove to be another public health disaster. There is already sufficient evidence to suggest that low salt could actually result in increased risk of cardiovascular disease. But the reality is that the international community needs to commission controlled trials so that we have the evidence as to whether the current policy is safe and effective. To do anything less is irresponsible.”
Susan Tolman, Daybreak Communications 0845 644 3845; mobile 07786 543430;
Notes to editors
• David McCarron is Executive Director of Shaping America’s Youth, a private/public partnership of the Office of the US Surgeon General, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Diabetes Association, which is the principal effort in the US directed against childhood obesity. Mf/ Dr David McCarron is also a visiting professor within the Department of Nutrition, University of California-Davis and former Head of the Nephrology Division at Oregon Health & Science University. An internally recognized authority on the role of dietary nutrients in cardiovascular disease, Dr McCarron has served as a consultant, investigator, media contact and medical board members/chairman to numerous private and public organizations over the past 25 years. He received the International Award for Modern Nutrition 2004 in recognition for outstanding research contributions to our understanding the role of nutrition in hypertension. He is the author of more than 250 scientific publications, over 500 scientific papers at research meetings and serves on the editorial boards of several professional journals.
• The Salt Manufacturers' Association is the trade association representing UK manufacturers of salt, including domestic salt, catering salt, water-softening salt, industrial salt and de-icing salt.
• For further information on the Salt Manufacturers' Association's stance on salt and health, please visit the press office at www.saltsense.co.uk The media resources available there also include downloadable photographs.
Company: Daybreak Communications