Effects of a community-based salt reduction program in a regional Australian population

Mary Anne Land, Jason H.Y. Wu, Adriana Selwyn, Michelle Crino, Mark Woodward, John Chalmers, Jacqui Webster, Caryl Nowson, Paul Jeffery, Wayne Smith, Victoria Flood, Bruce Neal

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Background: Salt reduction is a public health priority but there are few studies testing the efficacy of plausible salt reduction programs. Methods: A multi-faceted, community-based salt reduction program using the Communication for Behavioral Impact framework was implemented in Lithgow, Australia. Single 24-h urine samples were obtained from 419 individuals at baseline (2011) and from 572 at follow-up (2014). Information about knowledge and behaviors relating to salt was also collected. Results: Survey participants were on average 56 years old and 58 % female. Mean salt intake estimated from 24-h urine samples fell from 8.8 g/day (SD = 3.6 g/day) in 2011 to 8.0 (3.6) g/day in 2014 (-0.80, 95 % confidence interval -1.2 to -0.3;p < 0.001). There were significant increases in the proportion of participants that knew the recommended upper limit of salt intake (18 % vs. 29 %; p < 0.001), knew the importance of salt reduction (64 % vs. 78 %; p < 0.001) and reported changing their behaviors to reduce their salt intake by using spices (5 % vs. 28 %; p < 0.001) and avoiding eating out (21 % vs. 34 %; p < 0.001). However, the proportions that checked food labels (30 % vs. 25 %; p = 0.02) fell, as did the numbers avoiding processed foods (44 % vs. 35 %; p = 0.006). Twenty-six percent reported using salt substitute at the end of the intervention period and 90 % had heard about the program. Findings were robust to multivariable adjustment. Conclusions: Implementation of this multi-faceted community-based program was associated with a ~10 % reduction in salt consumption in an Australian regional town. These findings highlight the potential of well-designed health promotion programs to compliment other population-based strategies to bring about much-needed reductions in salt consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number388
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • 24-hour urine
  • Cardiovascular disease prevention
  • Salt
  • Sodium


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