News release

Provincial, Territorial Health Ministries Issue Sodium Reduction Report

NOTE: Background information on sodium and programs offered by the provinces is available at www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/cdip/healthy-eating-publications.asp .

Health departments across the country are working to help Canadians shake their sodium habit.

Reducing the Sodium Intake of Canadians: A Provincial and Territorial Report on Progress and Recommendations for Future Action was released today, June 8.

"Supporting strategies to reduce our sodium intake can reduce the burden of illness on Canadians and their families as well as on our health care systems," said Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson, who chaired the provincial and territorial health meetings. "This report demonstrates the great work that is going on in jurisdictions across the country to reduce sodium in our diets and outlines our commitment to continue working together to create a consistent, co-ordinated Canada-wide approach."

Eating too much sodium can cause a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. There is also evidence that a diet high in sodium is a risk factor for osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.

The report, which marks the first time the provinces and territories have collaborated in this way, stems from a September 2010 commitment by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers (with the exception of Quebec), to work together to lower the sodium intake of Canadians and promote healthy weights in children.

The report encourages discussion and participation among key partners, such as the federal government and non-government organizations. It also supports a commitment by the provinces and territories to reduce sodium intake to a population average of 2,300 mg per person, per day by 2016.

The report focuses on action in four key areas: lowering sodium in the food supply, awareness and education, research, and monitoring and evaluation. Actions include:

  • developing consistent healthy food guidelines and nutrition criteria for the sale, serving and marketing of foods in publicly funded places by March 2013
  • continuing to collaborate with the restaurant and food services industry and others to reduce sodium in foods and beverages and explore using B.C.'s Informed Dining program as a model for nutrition information by March 2013
  • asking the food industry to join governments in publicly committing to the 2016 reduction goal
  • encouraging the food industry and others to use sodium reduction messages from the report in healthy living and nutrition information and activities to increase public awareness.
  • continuing to share evaluation results and, by fall, establish an expert-based committee to oversee the development of consistent evaluation standards and practices in evaluation
  • providing a forum by fall 2012 to discuss monitoring and evaluation and identifying options to monitor sodium reduction in the food supply.

"By raising awareness of the risks of excess sodium and working towards implementing consistent strategies that encourage people across the country to reduce their salt intake, we can help prevent or delay a large proportion of cardiovascular or other health-related events and help Canadians stay healthier in the long term," said Dr. Perry Kendall, British Columbia’s provincial health officer and co-lead of the national Declaration on Prevention and Promotion, endorsed by ministers in September 2010.

Although Québec contributed to this report by supplying information about its own initiatives, and shares the general goals of the report, Québec does not subscribe to a Canada-wide strategy in this area and intends to remain solely responsible for developing and implementing healthy living policies, programs, guidelines and initiatives within its territory. Québec will continue sharing information and best practices with other governments in Canada.

The Reducing the Sodium Intake of Canadians report is available in English and French and can be accessed online at www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/cdip/healthy-eating-publications.asp .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Health departments across the country are trying to help Canadians shake the salt habit.

Canada's provincial and territorial ministers of health today (June 8th) released a sodium action report detailing efforts to help reduce sodium intake and improve the health of Canadians.

The report supports the commitment by provinces and territories to reduce sodium intake to a population average of 2,300 milligrams per person, per day by 2016.

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Media Contacts:

Theresa Hawkesworth
Health and Wellness 902-424-6883 Cell: 902-719-5004 E-mail:
Ryan Jabs, Media Relations Manager
B.C. Ministry of Health 250-952-1887