Jamaicans are eating way too much salt, a new Health Ministry study shows

My husband has regularly complained at our local cook shop about the high levels of salt in their otherwise quite good dishes. The chef maintains that all that salt is necessary – and that is what his customers want. So, he has lost one customer.

And what of the children? Perhaps this will come later in the Ministry of Health and Wellness study on the awfully high levels of salt in the Jamaican diet (see their press release below). A television report this evening noted that vendors outside the Oracabessa High School “are ready to provide healthier options for students.” I know a draft school nutrition policy is in the works, and hope that this will include a reduction in salty foods as well as sugary snacks and drinks (the report did not mention salt). Kudos to vendor Sophia Jones Anderson, who is really trying! There are other issues though: can students afford more healthy food, and do they want it?

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new salt guidelines – noting also that most Americans were eating way above the recommended guidelines.

I see mention here of low potassium consumption levels. I don’t know a great deal about potassium, but I do know that it is important for heart health. And, to get more you should eat more bananas, beetroot, and (avocado) pears! Not a problem…

So, here is more on the findings of Phase One of the Ministry’s study. It’s no wonder that “pressure” (hypertension) and heart problems are so common.

Jamaicans – stop being so salty!

Salty Jamaicans

  • Study confirms high levels of salt consumption among local population

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Tuesday, September 6, 2022: The average intake of salt in Jamaica is almost twice as high as the recommended level of intake, contributing to high blood pressure among members of the population while putting them at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The revelation was made by the Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, referencing findings from phase one of the $13-million salt study, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Wellness last year.

“Sixty-seven (67) per cent or two out of every three Jamaicans consume more than the recommended sodium intake, which is about 3.6 grams daily, above the recommended level of 2 grams daily,” the Minister said, speaking at the media launch of the 66th Annual CARPHA Health Research Conference in Kingston earlier today.

Other findings from phase one of the study, which is being led by Prof. Trevor Ferguson, Director, Epidemiology Research Unit at the Caribbean Institute for Health Research, include that:

  • 73% of males have higher than recommended levels of sodium intake, with prevalence highest among men aged 45-54 years.
  • 60.7% of females have higher than recommended levels of sodium intake, with prevalence greatest among those 35-44 years.
  • Importantly, the estimated mean sodium consumption suggests a pattern of high sodium and low potassium consumption for almost 30 years, with results reported from phase one of the study similar to those from the Spanish Town Cohort Study of the 1990s.

“Indeed, the majority of adult Jamaicans have diets high in sodium and low in potassium, requiring urgent public health interventions to reduce salt consumption and increase potassium intake to address the burden of hypertension and cardiovascular disease,” Minister Tufton noted.

The salt study comes against the background of concerning statistics for hypertension (high blood pressure) among Jamaicans. One in 3 Jamaicans are hypertensive – 35.8% women and 31.7% men, according to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey for 2016/17. Four out of every 10 people with the disease are unaware of their status – 60% men and 26% women. At the same time, more and more Jamaicans aged 15 to 74 years old are developing hypertension. In 2017, 31.5% of persons in this age group had high blood pressure compared to 20.9% in 2001.

Image from Shutterstock

2 thoughts on “Jamaicans are eating way too much salt, a new Health Ministry study shows

  1. Reblogged this on Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News and commented:
    The salt study comes against the background of concerning statistics for hypertension (high blood pressure) among Jamaicans. One in 3 Jamaicans are hypertensive – 35.8% women and 31.7% men, according to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey for 2016/17. Four out of every 10 people with the disease are unaware of their status – 60% men and 26% women. At the same time, more and more Jamaicans aged 15 to 74 years old are developing hypertension. In 2017, 31.5% of persons in this age group had high blood pressure compared to 20.9% in 2001.

    Like

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