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Reducing dietary salt intake and preventing iodine deficiency: towards a common public health agenda

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Public health advocates coordinate programs to reduce salt intake and prevent iodine deficiency

After decades working in parallel, public health advocates for dietary salt reduction and those seeking to achieve the elimination of iodine-deficiency disorders through salt iodisation have harmonised their agendas.

The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes reducing dietary salt intake as a cost-effective strategy to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases,1 but it also recommends universal salt iodisation to prevent and control iodine-deficiency disorders. Parallel implementation of both policies could be counterproductive.2 However, a meeting convened by the WHO and the George Institute for Global Health, in collaboration with the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders Global Network (ICCIDD–GN), in Sydney in March 2013, agreed on a new approach to consolidate the two agendas. Technical experts came together with WHO representatives to discuss the potential for maximising the impact of dietary salt reduction and iodine-deficiency elimination programs through improved coordination.3

High salt intakes are a primary cause of high blood pressure, one of the main risk factors for heart attack, kidney disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death and disease worldwide.…