Nigerians Consume 5.8 Grams of Salt Daily – CAPPA

Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has said, Nigeria’s daily salt consumption stands at an estimated 5.8 grams, significantly surpassing the World Health Organisation’s recommended limit of 2 grammes of sodium per day or less than 5 grammes of salt per day, equivalent to just one teaspoon.

Oluwafemi underscored the critical role of the media in promoting a Salt Reduction Campaign aimed at combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria.

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The CAPPA ED, said this during a Journalism Training session on Salt Reduction held in Lagos on Thursday.

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CAPPA ED, Akinbode Oluwafemi in a group photograph with some of the participants during the training on Thursday

Oluwafemi pointed out that Nigeria is currently grappling with a staggering burden of NCDs, a fact corroborated by recent data.

He noted the alarming trend of increased crowdfunding for lifelong diseases associated with NCDs, evident even through social media observations.

“Non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, remain the leading cause of death and disability worldwide,” Oluwafemi remarked.

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He highlighted hypertension, primarily attributed to excessive salt intake, as accounting for 12 per cent of deaths in Nigeria.

“As a health-focused civil society organisation, our duty is to enlighten the public about the perils associated with their dietary choices, particularly when driven by a lack of awareness,” Oluwafemi stressed.

He reiterated CAPPA’s commitment to advocating for relevant legislation to safeguard Nigerians’ health, while urging journalists to play a pivotal role in the salt reduction campaign.

Expressing gratitude to partners, including the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Oluwafemi emphasised the collaborative effort required to address this pressing public health issue.

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Dr Jerome Mafeni, delivering a lecture entitled: “Salt Consumption in Nigeria and the Need for Policy Intervention,” highlighted the alarming statistics that Nigerians are consuming twice the recommended salt intake.

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He attributed this trend to dietary habits, cultural preferences, and the prevalence of processed and packaged foods.

Mafeni underscored the adverse health implications of high salt consumption, including high blood pressure, kidney damage, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and a substantial public health burden.

He advocated for clear targets for salt content in industries, heightened public awareness about health risks, and cost-effective strategies for healthcare savings and economic gains.

Mafeni emphasised the need for rigorous advocacy and regulation to combat this pervasive health issue, proposing policy strategies such as setting salt targets, education and awareness campaigns, and food labeling regulations.

Bukola Olukemi Odele, programme officer, CAPPA, in her lecture titled: “Overview of Nigeria’s Salt Reduction Campaign”, confirmed that non-communicable disease is the primary cause of deaths and disabilities worldwide and in Nigeria alone, non-communicable diseases especially diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular disease contributes to 29 percent of recorded deaths.

According to her, we do not have number for other deaths that take place in rural communities and other places where the deaths are not recorded.

But for recurring death in Nigeria, non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases like stroke, and other health related diseases, approximately, 2,000,000 of these deaths globally are linked to a high salt diet.

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Bukola added that in Nigeria, salt is everybody’s business because there is hardly a household where people do not take salt.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), how do we reverse these deaths and how do we lower the burden of non-communicable diseases within the country?

She stressed that the simple cost effective public health intervention which is sole production can actually take care of this. Hence, at present, based on available facts and evidence based data,

“Nigeria consumes between 2.8grams of salt per day and the WHO recommended limit for salt intake is not more than 5grams per day. When we talk about 5 grams, we are talking about a teaspoon.

“We are not expected to take more than 11 of that tiny spoon as a daily recommended limit. Taking excess salt overtime causes high blood pressure.

“When the blood pressure increases overtime, the blood vessels will be thicken up, passage of blood becomes narrow and that affects blood supply to the organs in the body which includes the brain, kidneys and it causes great health consequences.

Public Health experts and medical experts have gone ahead to say that high salt intake leads to kidney malfunction, kidney failure, heart disease, some kind of dementia, osteoporosis and a whole lot of sicknesses and diseases that we may not have heard about.

“In Nigeria today, there is hardly a household you will come across without one person or two living with hypertension.

If you’re contributing your quota to the campaign, you are not doing it as a source of livelihood, you are contributing your quota to saving the lives of Nigerians that are dying of hypertension.

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During the AFCON games, we remember that some prominent persons died of heart attack. These things are staring at us in the face and the earlier we do something about it, the better. That is where the issue of the Salt Reduction Campaign comes in.

“We found out that reducing salt is capable of reducing the blood pressure in adults. If you want to live healthy and have a normal blood pressure, you must reduce your salt intake.

She noted that about 3 quarter of the salt we consume are from processed and packaged foods. Others are from the foods that we eat in fast food joints, restaurants, take away.

Furthermore she said, some of the things that you eat that does not taste salty are very high in sodium. For the purpose of this training, we will be using the term salt and sodium interchangeably.

“This has become a global concern that the World Health Organization is putting together some recommended actions that should be implemented to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.

“We will implement standards for effective and accurate labelling, most of the nutrition labels that we have on food are very tiny, illegible and it’s not easy to understand by the layman. Oftentimes, when you buy food, you don’t check the nutrition labels because it is meaningless.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600,

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