QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica’s salt intake is so high it introduced a national plan to reduce salt consumption across the population in 2011.

High salt diets are a major cause of raised blood pressure in the area. High blood pressure raises the risk for cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and death.

Since then, a program by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), aims to continue to lower the region’s salt intake.

In a report, the IDRC says the key barriers to reducing consumption include lack of information on the level of salt in processed and packaged foods, lack of consumer awareness about salt and its health effects, and the lack of standardised nutrition labelling.

According to IDRC, the main goal of the project that started in February 2012 and to conclude in February 2016, is to describe the Costa Rican situation, the overall nutritional quality of the processed and fast food supply and trends in dietary salt intake; measure the salt content in key processed food products and fast foods; and identify school children’s knowledge, perceptions and behaviours on salt and its relation to food labeling and their health.

The expected results is to provide the scientific evidence and baseline to continue implementing and evaluating Costa Rica’s national salt intake reduction plan; bring together the different sectors: government, scientists, food producers, food marketers, NOGs and consumers who have a stake in the issue; and, gain experience that will benefit other countries in the region looking to implement a reduction in dietary sal intake.

The cost of the project is CA$284,190 dollars, led by researches Adriana Blanco-Mexler of Costa Rica’s  Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (INCISENSA) – Institute for Research and Education on Nutrition and Health, and Mary L’Abbe of the University of Toronto, Canada.

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