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Switching the Salt Supply

The George Institute for Global Health/UNSW

Grant:
  • Cardiovascular Senior Researcher Grant
Date Funded:
  • 28 November, 2023
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Bruce Neal

What is the issue for NSW?

Most people in New South Wales, Australia, and around the world eat too much salt, which can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease and stroke. People with hypertension are advised to eat less salt but most find it very hard to do.

One way to make it easier is to replace some of the sodium in regular salt with potassium, a measure that has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Potassium-enriched salt looks and tastes the same as regular salt, so people find it easy to make the switch.

The challenge is in raising awareness about the health benefits of potassium-enriched salt in line with the latest research confirming just how effective it can be. Work is also underway globally to specify using potassium-enriched salts in clinical guidelines for treatment of hypertension. In addition, while potassium-enriched salt is available in major retailers, consumers may not know it’s there and it is sometimes sold as an expensive health product in other outlets.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This research will figure out how to get doctors and dieticians to routinely consider potassium-enriched salt for patients with hypertension (except for those with kidney conditions, for whom it is contraindicated). The research will also work with major retailers, like Aldi, Coles and Woolworths, to see how we can ensure potassium-enriched salt is available at major supermarkets at an affordable price. The study will be done through surveys and discussions with medical and industry decision-makers, as well as with patients and community. We want to do this for New South Wales but also be able to help other states in Australia and other countries all around the world.