Professor Graham MacGregor, said: "All the evidence now points that the target should be set lower. Getting it below 6g would give more benefit."
He said the 6g figure, set by the government's expert advisers back in 1994, had been "plucked out of the air" because the evidence at the time was not that good.
"We knew it was important to cut salt intake and we wanted a target that the food industry would accept."
Well not to put too fine a point on it, Professor MacGregor is being somewhat misleading in what he says! - Although the 6g figure was advised in 1994, for many years from 1994 on, the food industry ladled more and more and more and more salt into their highly salted convenience foods and ready meals and salty snacks and the government didn't start advising people to cut down on salt till round about 2003/4. (And if memory serves me correctly, the first advice given was max 7g a day for men and 5g a day for women. Years later it was changed to 6g a day.)
Recommendations made about salt
1 Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease 1994 This COMA report considered the evidence for a causal relationship between the consumption of sodium and both the level of blood pressure and the rise in blood pressure with age. A statement in the report said it recommended: "A reduction in the average intake of common salt (sodium chloride) by the adult population from the current level of about 9g/day to about 6g/day. There needs to be a gradual reduction in the amount of sodium from salt added to processed food and food manufacturers, caterers, and individuals should explore and grasp the opportunity for reducing the sodium content of foods and meals." The Chief Medical Officer at that time, accepted all the recommendations in this COMA report except for the recommendation to reduce salt. The reason for this is not clear but is believed to be pressure from industry. Department of Health (1994), "Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease", HMSO, London.
2 Dietary Reference Values 1991 This COMA report considered that: "Current sodium intakes are needlessly high and we caution against any trend towards increased intakes". It set its recommended intake for salt, as with all the other recommended intakes for nutrients, on the basis of the balance of risks and benefits, which might practically be expected to occur. The RNI for a particular population group is defined as the amount of the nutrient that is enough or more than enough for about 97% of the people in this group. The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for sodium for adults was set at 1600 mg/day. This is equivalent to approximately 4g of salt, if all the sodium was present in the diet as sodium chloride. This is considerably less than the present intake of 9-12g. Department of Health (1991), "Dietary Reference values for food, energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom", HMSO, London
I wonder why The Chief Medical Officer (Kenneth Calman, I believe) in the early '90s apparently did nothing to implement the recommendation of a maximum of 4g of salt a day, and apparently gave greater consideration to the desires of the food industry than to the health of the nation, and I wonder how many deaths and how much terrible suffering he was, therefore, personally responsible for? And I wonder why his successors in the post were so tardy in taking effective steps to give warnings about salt consumption? - Political considerations? - What though, could be more important in this matter than the health of the members of public - the electorate - the tax-payers, in fact?I consider the failure until recent times to put pressure on food manufacturers and caterers to reduce the sodium content of foods and meals to be a dereliction of duty of successive political administrations and health departments. - I remember buying McCance and Widdowson's 'Composition of Foods' in the late '90s, at considerable cost, in order to discover how much sodium there was in food. There was no way consumers could get this information from the pack. - The people of this country have been very ill-served in this matter.
See my webpage about the Politics of Salt for fuller coverage of the issue.
And it is more than time for Professor MacGregor to tell the truth about salt sensitivity, especially that caused by the reckless over-prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs that cause weakened blood vessels, massive fluid retention and consequent morbid obesity. - I wrote to him about this OVER TEN YEARS AGO and yet he is still not telling the truth about obesity and the salt connection.