Population level salt intake in the WHO European Region in 2022: a systematic review
Objective: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults consume less than 5 grams of salt per day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This study aims to examine the average population daily salt intake in the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region. Design: A systematic review was conducted to examine the most up-to-date salt intake data for adults published between 2000 and 2022. Data were obtained from peer-reviewed and grey literature, WHO surveys and studies, as well as from national and global experts. Setting: The 53 Member States of the WHO European Region. Participants: People aged 12 years or more. Results: We identified 50 studies published between 2010-2021. Most countries in the WHO European Region (n = 52, 98%) reported salt intake above WHO recommended maximum levels. In almost all countries (n = 52, 98%), men consume more salt than women, ranging between 5.39 – 18.51g for men and 4.27 – 16.14g for women. Generally, Western and Northern European countries have the lowest average salt intake, whilst Eastern European and Central Asian countries have the highest average. 42% of the fifty-three countries (n = 22) measured salt intake using 24h urinary collections, considered the gold standard method. Conclusions: This study found that salt intakes in the WHO European Region are significantly above WHO recommended levels. Most Member States of the Region have conducted some form of population salt intake. However, methodologies to estimate salt intake are highly disparate and underestimations are very likely.
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