Kiwis Call on Government to Take Action on Salt

6 March 2019

New Zealanders are calling on Government to ensure schools only sell healthy, low-salt foods on school grounds.

That’s the finding of a survey conducted by the Stroke Foundation into Kiwis’ attitudes and understanding around salt.

“This research is important because we know too much salt is a leading cause of high blood pressure, which in turn is the leading cause of stroke,” says Stroke Foundation National Health Promotion Manager Julia Rout.

Among the key findings:

Sixty-nine percent of respondents in the survey supported Government policies that require schools to only sell healthy low salt foods on school premises

Eighty seven percent wanted better public education on the effects of too much salt

Eighty eight percent wanted better labelling of salt content in food

Sixty nine percent want the Government to set voluntary targets for food companies, fast food outlets, and restaurants to reduce the amount of salt in their products.

In Australia, it’s believed up to 80 percent of children are eating too much salt, and Julia Rout said findings would probably be similar here.

The Green Party is already calling for guidelines that schools should follow to ensure students have healthy food options.

“We agree – good habits started early last a lifetime. That’s why it’s so important to get kids eating healthily from young age,” Julia says.

“It’s not just chips, pizza and burgers that are the issue. Packaged, processed snacks and convenience foods are a huge part of the problem.”

Asked whether they were eating the recommended amount of salt for good health, approximately half of respondents said they were eating around the right amount, while 20 percent said they were eating too much.

“In fact, we know from previous research that on average, New Zealanders are eating almost twice as much salt as is recommended for them,” Julia says.

“So this response indicates many Kiwis simply don’t know they’re eating too much salt – and that they could have serious health consequences down the track as a result.”

Many of the respondents were taking measures to reduce their intake, such as not adding salt to meals at the dinner table.

“While that’s encouraging, the real problem is the amount of salt in our processed food, and the message from this survey to Government is clear – do something about it,” Julia says.

More information about stroke, salt and high blood pressure can be found at stroke.org.nz.