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Salt Reduction

Salt intake requires personal change and public action: learn how to undertake both to reduce the burden of disease!

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Salt intake is known to be very high in most parts of the world, well above the WHO recommended maximum. Salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure which is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, heart attacks and chronic kidney disease among others. Cardiovascular disease, being the leading cause of death around the world, is placing a huge burden on health systems, especially in the Pacific region. 


It is important to realise the magnitude of this problem, how it works, and how to take action. After completing this course, you will gain an understanding of how high salt intake contributes to several potentially fatal diseases, action that you can take to decrease your own salt intake to healthy levels, and what can be done in public health, introducing programmes to alter intake of salt by the society. 

Salt intake requires personal change and public action: learn how to undertake both to reduce the burden of disease!


Module 1: Introduction

Module 1 will give you a brief introduction to each of the themes for the rest of the course. Module 1 touches on aspects of salt and sodium, epidemiology, cardiovascular disease, clinical implications of high salt intake and public health actions to reduce the burden of disease, with a focus on Pacific islands.

By the end of module 1 you should have an understanding of why we are concerned about high salt intake, what can be done, and an understanding of the details being covered in coming modules. All of the material in module 1 is explained in more depth in other modules.


Module 1+: Physiology and pathology knowledge development

This module is designed to teach you about the physiology of sodium within the body. You will learn what changes within the body at a molecular and cellular level to contribute to increased risk of the signs, symptoms and diseases which are linked to salt intake. This will also cover some aspects of physiology and nutrient intake which counterbalance disease.

Module 1+ is not necessary for full completion of the course, but it will provide a deeper understanding of the body chemistry which links salt intake to various diseases. It is most appropriate for someone with a basic prior knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, but the fundamental themes from this module are also described in later modules.


Module 2: Salt in your day to day life

Module 2 discusses the ways that you can ensure you consume a healthy amount of salt. With a focus on the Pacific environment, the module will cover the recommendations for maximum daily salt intake, and strategies to avoid exceeding this. Some common myths about salt intake are also dispelled.

This module provides some practical ways to alter your diet to maintain proper nutrition and good flavours but keeping a healthy level of salt, some lifestyle changes, and also teaches about how to accurately read nutrition labels. Some extra material is made available which gives details of the amount of salt in specific foods found around the Pacific islands.

Module 3: Salt in action in the body: the consequences

Module 3 explores the conditions that are associated with salt intake in more detail, considering the processes which lead to the conditions, and underlying causes. Some points about how to manage the burden of these diseases are discussed, from the personal level to those which may require intervention from a health system.

This module builds on the material from module 1+, but can be easily understood without knowledge of human physiology.


Module 4: Salt reduction and public health action

This module considers salt intake and public health, working through some strategies to implement projects that will encourage reduced salt intake and availability. This is a methodical description of the WHO SHAKE Technical Package for Salt Reduction, but extended to examine some examples of successful interventions, and details of some interventions in the Pacific islands are presented. Some resources to help begin a salt reduction strategy are presented and how to seek help for this, including some important stakeholders in salt reduction programmes.


About course author: Christopher Bates

Chris is a consultant on noncommunicable diseases with the World Health Organisation, he has researched and developed the technical content for POLHN courses on alcohol, salt reduction and betel nut.


Chris has worked in cancer control in various capacities for 10+ years, both clinically, research and public health projects including within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Fiji. He has a Master of Public Health (Global) from the University of Melbourne and maintains a working connection with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. Chris has particular interests in supporting the south Pacific in cancer control, including risk factor avoidance and access to tertiary care services. https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrdbates/

Average length2 hours
Effort10 hours
Number of modules5
InstitutionWorld Health Organization
SubjectSalt reduction
LanguageEnglish

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