Expert advice to help you maintain a healthy weight
Dissatisfied with your weight?
We're bombarded with scare stories about weight, from size zero to the obesity 'epidemic'. But a healthy weight is determined by different factors for each of us. Our expert advice is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, life-enhancing weight.
Overweight or underweight?
Being the right weight has a positive effect on wellbeing but also on our health, as being the wrong weight can cause a range of medical problems.
Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is made up of 40 per cent sodium and 60 per cent chloride. Found predominantly in pre-prepared foods, excessive salt consumption has been linked with high blood pressure and stomach cancer, and can exacerbate osteoporosis and asthma.
Why is it needed?
The sodium component of salt is vital for controlling the amount of water in the body, maintaining the normal pH of blood, transmitting nerve signals and helping muscular contraction. Salt is present in all foods in varying degrees, and almost all processed foods contain added salt.
Sodium, unlike all other minerals, is generally overconsumed, with the dietary intake of salt in the UK being far in excess of the recommended daily requirement.
Adults are advised to consume no more than 6g salt per day (about one teaspoon). Current intake is about 9g per day – a third higher than is recommended for good health. Babies and children should have less salt than adults. High salt intake in babies can be especially dangerous, as their kidneys cannot cope with large amounts. Recommendations for babies and children are given below:
|1 to 3
||2 (0.8g sodium)|
|4 to 6
||3 (1.2g sodium)|
|7 to 10
||5 (2g sodium)|
||6 (2.4g sodium)|
Reducing salt intake
The government has set a target of reducing the average salt consumption of adults to 6g per day by 2010. This is a challenging but achievable goal, which will bring measurable improvements in health. A study published in the scientific journal Hypertension in 2003 estimated that a reduction in salt intake to 6g per day would lead to a 13 per cent reduction in stroke and a 10 per cent reduction in ischaemic heart disease.
People who have experienced heart problems or have high blood pressure should follow a low-salt diet and take advice from their health care professional. Reducing sodium has been proven to be one of the best ways of lowering high blood pressure, especially in combination with broader dietary changes.