Objective: Strategies that aim to facilitate reduction of the salt content of foods in Australia are hampered by sparse and outdated data on habitual salt intakes. This study assessed habitual sodium intake through urinary excretion analyses, and identified food sources of dietary sodium, as well as knowledge and practices related to salt use in healthy women.
Methods: Cross-sectional, convenient sample of 76 women aged 20 to 55 years, Wollongong, NSW. Data included a 24 hour urine sample, three-day food diary and a self-administered questionnaire.
Results: Mean Na excretion equated to a NaCl (salt) intake of 6.41 (SD=2.61) g/day; 43% had values <6 g/day. Food groups contributing to dietary sodium were: bread and cereals (27%); dressings/sauces (20%); meat/egg-based dishes (18%); snacks/desserts/extras (11%); and milk and dairy products (11%). Approximately half the sample reported using salt in cooking or at the table. Dietary practices reflected a high awareness of salt-related health issues and a good knowledge of food sources of sodium.
Conclusion: These findings from a sample of healthy women in the Illawarra indicate that dietary sodium intakes are lower in this group than previously reported in Australia. However, personal food choices and high levels of awareness of the salt reduction messages are not enough to achieve more stringent dietary targets of <4 g salt per day.
Implications: Urinary Na excretion data are required from a larger nationally representative sample to confirm habitual salt intakes. The bread and cereals food group are an obvious target for sodium reduction strategies in manufactured foods.