Salt sensitivity, insulin resistance, and public health in India

Endocr Pract. Nov-Dec 2010;16(6):940-4. doi: 10.4158/EP10103.OR.


Objective: To provide a current overview of the worldwide prevalence and pattern of cardiovascular disease and discuss the role of sodium intake and salt sensitivity, with a focus on the Asian Indian population.

Methods: An extensive search of the literature from PubMed and the Cochrane Library was undertaken. Moreover, the pathophysiologic basis of the relationship between sodium intake and insulin sensitivity in various populations was reviewed.

Results: High blood pressure is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease and mortality globally. Although salt sensitivity is a frequent determinant of hypertension, a strong link between salt sensitivity and cardiovascular disease associated with insulin resistance has not received adequate attention. This may be particularly relevant to the public health challenges of increasing prevalences of obesity, diabetes, and cardiometabolic syndrome in India where, according to recent estimates, approximately 60% of the world's cases of cardiovascular disease occur and the salt consumption is among the highest in any large population.

Conclusion: There is evidence for a strong link between increased salt sensitivity and insulin resistance leading to metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. This relationship may be particularly relevant to the escalating epidemic of cardiovascular disease in the southern Asian Indian population. A broad-based community action to achieve at least a modest restriction of salt intake can yield important health benefits and is urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • India / epidemiology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / adverse effects*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary