High sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Global estimates suggest that most people consume too much salt—on average 9–12 grams per day.
Cardiovascular disease kills 20.5 million people per year and an estimated 2.5 million deaths can be prevented each year if global salt consumption is reduced to WHO recommended levels.
Unhealthy diets are a leading global public health risk, contributing to a rise in obesity and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. In the current food environment, dietary patterns have shifted, and people are consuming more foods high in saturated fats, trans fat, sugar or sodium. Consumers are exposed to powerful food marketing that influences their attitudes, preferences and consumption, and that is mostly dominated by ultra-processed foods. Today, unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disability globally.
The main source of sodium in our diet is salt. In low- and middle-income countries, most sodium consumption comes from salt added during cooking, at the table or through condiments (fish sauce or soy sauce). In many high-income countries, up to 75–80% of the salt consumed by the population comes from processed foods (such as ready-made meals, salty snacks, and processed meats), meals consumed frequently in large amounts (bread and processed cereal products) and meals prepared outside the home. Data from various countries indicates that most populations around the world are consuming much more sodium than the current World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, which is 2 grams of sodium per day, or the equivalent of 5 grams of salt per day. In fact, a first-of-its-kind WHO Global report on sodium intake reduction, published in March 2023, shows that the world is currently off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025.
Too much sodium in our diet can have devasting consequences for our health, including increasing our risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Decreasing dietary salt intake to the WHO recommended level could avert up to 2.5 million deaths due to heart disease and stroke each year.