Campaign to reduce Thais’ salt consumption by half

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BANGKOK, Oct 16 – Salty foods have wreaked havoc on the health of Thai people who are increasingly at risk of chronic diseases including high blood pressure, heart and kidney problems and paralysis.

Sophon Mekthon, deputy permanent secretary for public health, said sodium overload has affected Thai people’s health. He suggested a daily intake of less than five grammes of salt, or 2,400 milligrammes of sodium which is equivalent to one teaspoon.

He said 11.5 million Thai people or 21.4 per cent are suffering from high blood pressure while 7.6 million people or 17.5 per cent from kidney disease, and 750,000 people or 1.4 per cent from ischemic heart disease, and 500,000 people or 1.1 per cent from stroke and paralysis.

Deteriorating eating habits and health problems have compelled the public health ministry to launch a campaign urging Thai people to reduce salt consumption by half.

Dr Sophon said the public health ministry’s 10-year health plan (2007-2016) has aimed at tackling five most serious diseases among Thai people: diabetes, high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Royal College of Physicians president Dr Kriang Tangsa-nga said the doctors’ organisation has joined the public health ministry in the health campaign. He said the “Reduce Salt by Half” programme was aimed at informing the public of the dangers of various diseases and urging them to change their diet and eating habits.

Dr Surasak Kantachuvessiri, president of the Reduced Salt Consumption Network, said sodium overload is found among most Thais who eat out, adding that a one-dish meal consists of 1,000-2,000 milligrammes of sodium.