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The urgency of monitoring salt consumption and its effects in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

To the Editor: There is convincing evidence that high salt diets are linked to elevated blood pressure — a major risk factor for chronic diseases.1 Premature mortality due to chronic diseases is a major contributor to the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.2 Although much has been written about the health benefits of a traditional hunter-gatherer diet and the detrimental effects of colonisation on diet and exercise patterns,3 we know little about how colonisation has affected salt intake among Indigenous Australians.

Currently in Australia, most efforts to prevent disease caused by high blood pressure focus on the clinical management of hypertension. Such programs can only affect individuals identified and treated for high blood pressure. In population terms, a small proportion of the total blood pressure-related disease burden is adequately addressed by this approach.4 Salt reduction programs, on the other hand, have the potential to address much more of the disease burden. A modest reduction in salt intake has been found to have a significant blood pressure-lowering effect.5 Furthermore,…