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The National Health Fund (NHF) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) are promoting the observance of Salt Awareness Week from February 1- 6 this year, with the aim being to educate the public on the harmful effects of too much salt and how to reduce sodium in our diet. The theme for the week is, “Drop the Salt – Protect Your Health.”

Mrs. Rosemarie Lee, Public Information Manager, NHF says, “Several countries have been observing Salt Awareness Week and the NHF decided to join the promotion especially in light of the high enrolment in the NHF Individual Benefits programme of individuals with conditions affected by high salt intake.” Salt is the most common source of sodium and eating a high sodium diet increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

There are over 160,000 persons with high blood pressure enrolled with the NHFCARD at the end of 2009. This is the single highest enrolment among the fifteen conditions covered by the NHF and is twice as high as diabetes, the condition with the next highest enrolment. Over 35,000 persons are enrolled for Ischaemic Heart Disease and nearly 48,000 persons for Vascular Disease, which is also impacted by sodium/salt intake.

The negative effects on children of a high sodium diet will also be highlighted during the Week. A high sodium diet also results in higher blood pressure in children and the child with high blood pressure can become the adult with a condition. Eating too much salt as a child can also lead to a preference for salty foods and therefore an increased risk of heart disease or stroke as an adult.

Mrs. Lee says during Salt Awareness Week the NHF will use its existing advertising, public relations, community promotions and the NHF website to educate the public about the harmful effects of salt, including its effect on children as well as provide information on ways to reduce salt in the diet.

Persons or organisations wishing to advocate for the reduction of salt in the diet may contact the NHF for brochures and posters promoting salt awareness.

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