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Expert slams ‘politicised’ nutrition and salt science

Nutrition is being politicised, with food authorities bowing to pressure from minority interests and lobbyists in areas such as salt reduction at significant risk to consumer health, according to one expert.

Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk, consultant nutritionist at First Food Solutions, Dr Gary Stephenson said moves to remove salt from food failed to adequately acknowledge the beneficial effects sodium played in the diet.

For instance, a study by Dr Elif I Ekinci et al from the University of Melbourne, published in the journal Diabetes Care in March, suggested that death rates from diabetes were higher amongst 638 participants (tracked over 10 years) with Type 2 of the disease who had cut their sodium intake.

Said Stephenson: “There is a huge relationship between obesity, high blood pressure and low sodium levels.”

In addition, Stephenson said the evidence linking over-consumption of salt to raised blood pressure levels was more complex than was being painted. In the highest age range (56 and above) included in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), for example, higher sodium intake actually correlated with lower blood pressure.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) had failed to account for this in its advice on reducing sodium consumption in the diet, “setting public health policy without adequate data on the impact on public health,” Stephenson said.

“There’s a huge cost to manufacturers of reducing salt when it may not have any effect on public health. In fact, it may have a harmful effect. Nutrition academics have been afraid to speak out because many are supported and funded by the FSA.”

Rather than high salt intake, the real problem was low potassium levels, leading to the kidneys being unable to excrete excess sodium, said Stephenson. According to the NDNS, 95% of the population were deficient in potassium……

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