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Estimated salt intake status for adults (19 to 64 years) in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland

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Published: July 2016

Aim

These surveys provide data to establish England, Scotland and Northern Ireland’s current positions compared to the Government recommendation to reduce the average population salt intake to no more than 6g per day (g/day) for adults, which is based on advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) in 2003.

Findings

  • In 2014, the mean estimated salt intake for adults aged 19 to 64 years in England was 8.0g/day; 9.1g/day for men and 6.8g/day for women. On average 33% higher than the SACN recommended maximum.
  • In 2014 the mean estimated salt intake for adults aged 19 to 64 years in Scotland was 7.8g/day; 8.6g/day for men and 6.9g/day for women. On average 29% higher than the recommended maximum.
  • In 2015 the mean estimated salt intake for adults aged 19 to 64 years in Northern Ireland was 8.6g/day; 10.0g/day for men and 7.1g/day for women. On average 43% higher than the recommended maximum.
  • There was no statistically significant difference between the geometric mean salt intake for all adults combined in the Northern Ireland 2015 sodium survey (7.7g/day) and the England 2014 sodium survey (7.2g/day). However, geometric mean salt intake was significantly higher in Northern Ireland (7.7g/day) than in the Scotland 2014 sodium survey (7.1g/day) for all adults combined.


Methods

Participants aged 19 to 64 years were recruited by NatCen’s Telephone Unit to take part in the surveys. Trained fieldworkers collected 689 complete 24-hour urine samples in England, 663 in Scotland and 609 in Northern Ireland. 

Twenty-four hour urine collection is the best method for measuring salt intake. The reason being is that it is difficult to precisely measure salt intake either by estimating the amount eaten using a food diary or by taking blood samples. 

Reports 

England: for more information see the full report on the Public Health England website.

Scotland: for more information see the full report on the Food Standards Scotland website.

Northern Ireland: for more information see the full report on the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland website.