Dietary Salt Reduction in Indian Hypertensives: An Awareness Survey among Practitioners

Background: There has been a considerable debate over dietary salt reduction. The objective of this survey was to understand Indian medical practitioners’ knowledge and perception on benefits of dietary salt restriction in real life setting.

Materials and methods: A prospective, cross sectional, observational, questionnaire-based survey was conducted among registered Indian practitioners. The questionnaire consisted of questions based on practitioners’ knowledge regarding the salt intake in their patients, perception on laws regarding salt restriction and awareness of their patients’ knowledge regarding salt restriction. Data was summarized by percentage graphs.

Results: A total of 674 practitioners participated in survey across India. Majority of the participants (67.8%) stated that their patients were aware of the harmful consequences of excessive dietary sodium intake. Almost 43% of doctors stated that salt added during cooking or table salt was the main source of salt in the Indian diet whereas 29% of doctors responded that salt from processed foods such as breads, noodles, etc. is the main source of salt in the Indian diet. Most doctors (49%) were aware of the WHO recommendation for dietary salt intake for an Indian adult i.e. 5 g/day. About 52% of the doctors agreed that their patients should reduce the salt intake. About 24% of doctors stated that there are no major barriers to discussing ways to reduce dietary sodium intake with hypertensive or pre-hypertensive adult patients. Approximately 40% stated lack of patient awareness, paucity of scientific evidence and non-compliance as some of the major barriers for dietary salt reduction.

Conclusion: The overall results from this survey strongly support the current public health policy for a reduction in salt intake. Another fact highlighted by this survey was that there is a paucity of well-planned education campaigns and dietary salt reduction programs in India.

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