Pacific Islands

Fast facts

All WHO Member States agreed to the global target to reduce population salt intake by 30% by 2025, towards the recommended level of less than 5g/day

 

On a global scale, excess salt consumption was estimated to cause 1.6 million deaths in 2010

Partners

Deakin University, Melbourne

Fiji National University, Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Noncommunicable Diseases (FNU-C-POND)

The World Health Organization, Division of Pacific Technical Support (WHO DPS)

Ministry of Health, Samoa (MOH-Samoa)

The George Institute for Global Health

Supporters

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia

Global Alliance for Chronic Disease (GACD)

The George Institute for Global Health

Background

  • Approximately 40% of Pacific Island residents have been diagnosed with a noncommunicable disease (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and/or hypertension.
  • Previous surveys using the WHO STEPwise approach to chronic disease risk factor surveillance (STEPS) confirmed that raised blood pressure is a key contributor to NCDs.
  • One of the main causes of high blood pressure is excess salt consumption, however, salt intake patterns and contributors of salt in the diet have not been comprehensively measured.
  • This project will help fill the gaps and build the evidence to develop a population salt reduction program that is cost-effective in improving health.

Aims

  • The project aims to assess salt intake patterns, identify potential multi-sectoral interventions to reduce salt intake and evaluate the outcomes of the intervention in Fiji and Samoa.
  • The findings will help inform future implementation and surveillance of salt reduction interventions in other Pacific Island settings

Methods

  • Multi-faceted programs including raising public awareness, engaging and mobilising community action and engaging restaurants, caterers and food manufacturers to lower salt content in foods
  • Pre- and post-intervention monitoring was undertaken to determine changes in salt intake (through 24-hour urine collection), consumers’ knowledge, attitude and behaviour relating to salt (though survey), sources of sodium in the diet (through dietary survey), and sodium levels in foods (through shops survey)
  • A process evaluation was also conducted to understand the extent to which various components of the intervention were implemented and the context of implementation

Impact

The projects in Fiji and Samoa have resulted in significant policy changes including:

  1. Incorporation of salt targets into the food regulations
  2. Salt reduction efforts have been mainstreamed into nutrition activities
  3. In Samoa, Ministerial proposals for taxation of unhealthy foods (high in salt, sugar, saturated fat) are a priority
  4. Inter-ministerial collaboration on NCDs has been strengthened
  5. Relationships have been established with the food industry