By Ted Bruce
It is not necessary to summarize all the literature on the contribution of excessive salt in our diets to disease and ultimately health care use. Most of us know about this problem thanks to education and communications from public health. But more needs to be done on a number of fronts including an investment in more health promotion through public health programs. PHABC has endorsed a call for the implementation of a comprehensive plan for sodium reduction that was developed by a government appointed panel of experts. Sadly, the federal government seems to be reluctant to follow this advice and it has been up to a private member’s bill and public health advocates to push for implementation.
The sodium reduction issue is a terrific demonstration of the importance of investments in prevention but also paints a picture of the various elements of a prevention effort including health education, regulation, pricing and setting targets. We need look no further than tobacco reduction as the model for comprehensive prevention efforts. The number of lives saved, disabilities reduced and health care costs saved is nothing short of astonishing – thanks to a multi-year investment in a prevention agenda. When decision-makers balk at funding new investments in prevention and ask what value there is in increased funding to public health prevention strategies, they need look no further than the battle to reduce sodium in our diets. It is time to seriously invest in improving health and not just treating the disease.
Policy Change: Sodium in the Food Supply | Centre for Science in the Public Interest | http://www.cspinet.org/canada/foodsodium.html
Joint statement of Canadian Health and Citizens’ Groups in support of Bill C-460, Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act : http://cspinet.org/canada/pdf/jan30-2013.c-460.jointstatement.pdf
Bill C-460, Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act | Introduced in the House of Commons in November 2012.
– Ted Bruce is the Past President of the Public Health Association of BC.