Sweetness in the South, Saltiness in the North, Freshness in the East, and Hotness in the West

Addressing salty diets in China’s Northern Province of Shan Dong

Photo of Gao Yujuan, whose parents both suffer from hypertension.

"My dad and mom are both hypertension patients. Because of this project, I now use less salt when I cook and make sure that my parents’ salt intake is no more than 5 grams per day. Now their hypertension is under control. I want to be a volunteer for salt reduction." - Ms. Gao Yujuan, Shandong

GAO YUJUAN DOESN’T SUFFER FROM HYPERTENSION but it does affect her life. Yujuan’s parents are among the 160 million people in China with hypertension. Hypertension is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death in China. Approximately 25% of the adult population in China has hypertension; however, only 36% of those know they have it, and approximately 5% of them control their hypertension with medication. The US-China collaboration in noncommunicable disease focuses its efforts on reducing one of the major risk factors for hypertension – salt intake.

SALT INTAKE IS HIGH IN CHINA, but it’s particularly high in Shan Dong province on the northeastern seaboard. It is the second most populous province with approximately 96 million residents. Data suggest that Shan Dong has higher adult hypertension rates and salt consumption than the national average.

THE SHANDONG SALT REDUCTION PROGRAM was launched in March 2011. It is currently supported by the China Ministry of Health and Shandong provincial government with technical assistance and guidance provided by US CDC. It is the first provincial and government-lead salt reduction program in China. A team of 15 government agencies and organizations are implementing a comprehensive strategy to reduce salt intake. This program has great potential to affect prevention and control of hypertension efforts in this province and ultimately throughout China.

Photo of cook making a meal in a wok in China.

"These experiences in China will help refine strategies for sodium reduction in the US and globally." - Dr. Michael Engelgau, Director, Noncommunicable Diseases, US CDC in China

“LESS SALT, BETTER HEALTH” was the project slogan heard and seen through numerous mass media campaigns including cartoon videos, news releases, TV, and radio lectures. As information was broadcast throughout the region, Yujuan quickly learned about the risks of high sodium intake, which led her to start cooking low-sodium foods in her home. She was ultimately selected to represent her hometown in the Shandong Family Cooking Campaign, where she won the highest award. She now would like to serve as a volunteer for the program.

POLICIES AND REGULATIONS FOR SALT REDUCTION have been developed with support from the project’s implementation team to reduce salt in restaurant food, processed food, and other foods sold. In 2013, all processed food will show sodium content on food labels as mandated by new food labeling laws.

Page last reviewed: September 27, 2013
Content source: Global Health