Researchers launch assault on salt

People with high blood pressure needed for research into reducing dietary salt intake

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Researchers look to develop web-based tool to help people reduce their salt intake.

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A WEB-BASED research project could help people reduce the salt in their diet and prevent and manage high blood pressure.

"We all eat salt (and sodium), but most of us eat an excessive amount of salt," said CQUniversity's Dr Saman Khalesi.

"Salt may add an extra bit of taste to food, but it also adds an extra load on our blood pressure and heart.

"In fact, even a slight reduction in daily salt intake may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events significantly and save lives."

Dr Khalesi and Professor Corneel Vandelanotte have partnered with Metro South and Ipswich Nephrology and Transplant Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, the University of Queensland and the World Health Organisation Corresponding Committee in Salt Reduction at the George Institute of Global Health to come up with an online behaviour change platform.

Dr Khalesi said the majority of salt in food is "hidden salt".

"Hidden salt in commercial food products can be masked by other tastes, making it difficult for us to understand how much salt we are consuming," he said.

"Many also lack the knowledge and skills to choose healthier foods.

"This and many other individual factors like attitudes, needs, likes and dislikes need to be considered when planning a personalised salt reduction program."

To be effective, Dr Khalesi said programs need to provide personalised content (like a coach) and reach a lot of people at low cost.

DR SAMAN KHALESI

DR SAMAN KHALESI

"Given that the majority of Australians have internet, we are developing a web-based salt education (SaltED) program that mimics face-to-face interaction with health professionals and provides personalised feedback.

"To our knowledge, no studies have investigated the effectiveness of personally tailored salt intake advice in adults with increased blood pressure.

"Therefore, the SaltED project will be the first web-based intervention that incorporates personalised feedback to target salt reduction to prevent and manage hypertension in Australia."

As part of phase one, adults with medically diagnosed high blood pressure or hypertension will be asked to share their experiences, attitudes, needs and barriers to salt reduction with each other and researchers in an online group discussion.

Phase two and three will involve the development of the online intervention program and a measure of its effectiveness.

If successful, Dr Khalesi said SaltED will help reduce salt intake to prevent and manage hypertension, reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and the cost to the healthcare system.

To enquire about taking part in phae one, email Dr Khalesi at s.khalesi@cqu.edu.au

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