Manitoba to reduce salt consumption

Sodium reduction can help reduce serious health problems

Lowering your sodium intake is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle.
Lowering your sodium intake is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle.
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Winnipeg Health Region
Published Friday, June 8, 2012

Manitoba is working with other provinces and territories across the country to help Canadians lower the amount of salt in their diet, Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau announced today. 

The province contributed to a joint provincial/territorial report, Reducing the Sodium Intake of Canadians: A Provincial and Territorial Report on Progress and Recommendations for Future Action, which was released today. The report marks the first time the provinces and territories have collaborated in this way and stems from a September 2010 commitment by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers (with the exception of Quebec), to work together to lower the sodium intake of Canadians and promote healthy weights in children.

"Lowering our sodium intake is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle and can help reduce significant health problems, such as high blood pressure, strokes, heart and kidney disease," said Rondeau. "As this report demonstrates, we are working with jurisdictions across the country to find the best ways to reduce consumption of sodium and lessen the burden of illness on our families and our health system.  We are committed to working together to create a consistent, co-ordinated Canada-wide approach." 

Rondeau noted the province has been taking steps to promote sodium reduction including the establishment of school nutrition guidelines that contain recommendations for sodium, as well as the creation of 'Eat Smart, Meet Smart' guidelines to help employers and employees develop strategies for healthy food choices in the workplace.

The joint provincial/territorial report encourages discussion and participation among key partners, such as the federal government and non-government organizations, Rondeau said.  It also supports a commitment by the provinces and territories to reduce sodium intake to a population average of 2,300 milligrams per person, per day by 2016.

The report focuses on action in four key areas:  lowering sodium in the food supply, awareness and education, research, and monitoring and evaluation.  Actions include:

  • Developing consistent healthy food guidelines and nutrition criteria for the sale, serving and marketing of foods in publicly funded places by March 2013;
  • Continuing to collaborate with the restaurant and food-services industry and others to reduce sodium in foods and beverages, and explore using British Columbia's Informed Dining program as a model for nutrition information by March 2013;
  • Asking the food industry to join governments in publicly committing to the 2016 reduction goal;
  • Encouraging the food industry and others to use sodium reduction messages from the report in healthy living and nutrition information, and activities to increase public awareness;
  • Continuing to share evaluation results and, by fall, establish an expert-based committee to oversee the development of consistent evaluation standards and practices; and
  • Providing a forum by spring to discuss monitoring and evaluation and identifying options to monitor sodium reduction in the food supply.

Although Quebec contributed to this report by supplying information about its own initiatives and shares the general goals of the report, Quebec does not subscribe to a Canada-wide strategy in this area and intends to remain solely responsible for developing and implementing healthy living policies, programs, guidelines and initiatives within its territory, Rondeau said.  Quebec will continue sharing information and best practices with other governments in Canada.

The Reducing the Sodium Intake of Canadians report is available in English and French and can be accessed here.

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