World Health Organization urges cut in dietary salt – now that experts say this does little

The global health agenda is beginning to look more and more like a messy smorgasbord of competing interests lacking an evidence-based template for setting priorities. Arguably, there are more important things for WHO to do on the global health front than call for a low-salt diet. Especially, given recent expert findings suggesting low-salt diets may not help much.
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Flickr, crayonbeam

As my esteemed colleague Laurie Garrett has extensively reported, this year’s World Health Assembly has concluded after dealing with a myriad of global health issues such as the emergence of new and potentially deadly viruses, the need to define better aid and development goals, the convergence of health and human rights, setting standards and the rising threat of chronic or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide.

I chuckled when I read that one of the big positions taken at the big confab was to push for a global reduction in dietary salt. Really? This is a top priority, in a world where billions still go hungry and die from dirty water?

I’m a big fan of the World Health Organization, at least in concept, and believe the international community needs to support the work and ambitions of the WHO.

And I realize many of those pushing for more global attention to NCDs like heart disease, obesity and diabetes think this push against salt is a victory. Chronic diseases due to poor diets are indeed big killers. But the global health agenda is beginning to look more and more like a messy smorgasbord of competing interests lacking an evidence-based template for setting priorities.

Arguably, there are more important things for WHO to do on the global health front than call for a low-salt diet. Especially, given this piece of news:

NY Times No benefit seen in sharp limits of salt diet

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.