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Case study: The VicHealth Salt Reduction Partnership

"This partnership is the result of successful translation of research into policy and practice."

 

Background

Australians are currently consuming on average 8 to 9 grams of salt a day, more than the World Health Organization’s recommended daily intake of 5g. This excess salt is a major cause of health issues like high blood pressure, which in turn is a risk factor for the world’s single biggest killer: cardiovascular disease.

Australia and other WHO Member States have committed to reducing this average salt intake by 30% by 2025. However, Federal government action to date has been limited.

 

What did The George Institute do?

In 2014, the WHO Collaborating Centre on Population Salt Reduction, headed by The George Institute’s Dr Jacqui Webster, was commissioned to review the evidence for state-led salt reduction initiatives and highlight the opportunities for action. 

“Based on this report’s recommendations, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) established the VicHealth Salt Reduction Partnership, a state-led salt reduction initiative to reduce Victorians’ average salt intake. Achieving the WHO targets in Victoria would prevent around 800 deaths and the same number of non-fatal events across the state each year,” said Dr Webster.

This partnership includes VicHealth, The George Institute, Deakin University, the Heart Foundation, Baker IDI, Kidney Health and the National Stroke Foundation, representing a broad coalition of government, research and health advocacy organisations. 

 

Results and success

“This partnership is the result of successful translation of research into policy and practice. The review of evidence for state-led action on salt reduction has resulted in a strategic partnership group leading a multifaceted salt reduction intervention implemented throughout Victoria,” said Dr Webster.

“Together we are working to raise public awareness of the health issues caused by eating too much salt; strengthen existing policies to create a supportive environment for lowering salt intake; develop innovative approaches to working with the food industry; and undertake research monitoring and evaluation of reduction initiatives.”

The George Institute has also received a NHMRC partnership grant, led by Professor Bruce Neal, to conduct robust process, cost and outcome evaluations of the intervention, which will help build the evidence for how to reduce salt intake in other states and territories and other countries around the world. 

 

What does the future hold?

“Building on the work and lessons from the VicHealth partnership, The George Institute is now well placed to support other states and territories in their salt reduction initiatives, with the aim of achieving an overall reduction in salt intake across Australia,” said Dr Webster.