Vol 61, Supp. I (2010)
Review paper
Published online: 2011-09-22

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Iodine-deficiency prophylaxis and the restriction of salt consumption — a 21st century challenge

Zbigniew Szybiński, Mirosław Jarosz, Alicja Hubalewska-Dydejczyk, Krystyna Stolarz-Skrzypek, Kalina Kawecka-Jaszcz, Iwona Traczyk, Katarzyna Stoś


The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a recommendation (Technical Consultation: Paris 2006, Luxembourg 2007) that salt consumption, as a risk factor for hypertension, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, and select cancers, should be restricted. The European Commission looked to adhere to this recommendation by creating the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity. According to WHO recommendations, a daily allowance of 5 g NaCl (i.e., 2 g Na) for individual salt consumption should not be exceeded. At present, mean individual salt consumption in Poland totals 13.5 g, of which salt used in household constitutes 8.8 g. In some regions of Poland, this number reaches upwards of 15.0 g/person. The Position Paper on Initiatives Aimed at Decreasing Salt Consumption in Poland, developed by an expert group at the National Food and Nutrition Institute, set the course for intervention, including changing recipes for massproduced food products and large-scale catering, improving oversight by food control agencies, and continuing legislative changes. These interventions should also include education directed towards consumers, food producers, public health professionals, healthcare workers, and media representatives. The Position Paper of the Polish Hypertension Society also sets the course for promoting restricted salt consumption and controlling hypertension on a population level. However, household salt is the main carrier of iodine in the Polish model of iodine prophylaxis. Thus, any interventions also require synchronized action with the Polish Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Current efforts aimed at preventing iodine-deficiency look to increase consumption of other iodine-rich products (e.g., milk, mineral water) with standardized levels of iodine. Once they achieve an iodine concentration of 0.1–0.2 mg, these products can easily supplement any decrease in physiological iodine levels resulting from reduced salt consumption. Also required are wide-ranging educational campaigns which will be coordinated by the new designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Nutrition at the Chair of Endocrinology at Jagiellonian University, Collegium Medicum in Kraków. (Pol J Endocrinol 2010; 61 (education supplement I): 1–6)

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