Where salt pinches: campaign to help cut intake

Chennai non-profit to help spread awareness in city of adverse effects of consuming excess salt

March 15, 2019 06:56 am | Updated 06:58 am IST - Mumbai

Fresh Cherry Tomato with salt seasoning in a wooden bowl.

Fresh Cherry Tomato with salt seasoning in a wooden bowl.

The Chennai-based non-profit that spearheaded the ‘Salt Fight, a war against salt intake in India, is now in Mumbai. On World Kidney Day on Thursday, Sapiens Health Foundation announced that they will work in Mumbai and target the youth to spread awareness of kidney disease and the harmful effects of excess salt intake.

Targeting youths

“Mumbai has a huge population. We plan to reach out to nearly 1,000 college students every month,” said Dr. Rajan Ravichandran, the Founder Chairman of Sapiens Health Foundation, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of a booklet called, ‘Save Your Kidney, Only You Can’.


“We target the youth because in most adults, the damage is very much in process,” he said. The foundation has reached out to more than 20,000 college students in Chennai so far, Dr. Ravichandran said. In December last year, the foundation had surveyed 5,000 college students in Chennai and found that only 40% of students had an ideal body weight while 60% were obese or underweight. The survey had also revealed that 80% of students were vaguely aware of some kind of connection between salt intake and blood pressure but only 20% of students knew how much salt intake is advised for daily consumption. “Lack of awareness on the topic is common. For example, most people don’t know about hidden salts that are present in sweets, breads, and cakes. In India, food labels don’t display salt content, which is another problem. By reaching out to people, we want them to be conscious,” said Dr. Ravichandran.

In Mumbai, nephrologist Dr. Umesh Khanna will spearhead the awareness campaign, organise events and identify nephrologists who can further spread the message. He said, “Our kidneys filter the waste from our body and excrete it in the form of urine. Salt is also removed from the body through this process. However, if the kidney function is hampered even slightly, the salt is retained in the body, triggering a chain of health issues like high blood pressure, heart ailments and so on. We want to motivate people with a different kind of salt satyagraha by pledging to reduce salt intake by 30%.”

Double whammy

The World Health Organization recommends less than 5 gm (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day. However, Indians consume an average of 10 gm to 15 gm. As many as 64 countries have a salt regulatory programme, but not India. He said, “It is like a double whammy for us. In the West, dependency on processed food is a problem. But for India, besides processed food, our home food also includes a lot of pickles, papads that have excessive salt.”

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