Objective: To describe the UK Food Standards Agency's (FSA) salt reduction programme undertaken between 2003 and 2010 and to discuss its effectiveness.
Design: Relevant scientific papers, campaign materials and evaluations and consultation responses to the FSA's salt reduction programme were used.
Setting: Adult salt intakes, monitored using urinary Na data collected from UK-wide surveys, indicate a statistically significant reduction in the population's average salt intake from 9·5 g/d in 2000-2001 to 8·6 g/d in 2008, which is likely to have health benefits.
Subjects: Reducing salt intake will have an impact on blood pressure; an estimated 6 % of deaths from CHD in the UK can be avoided if the number of people with high blood pressure is reduced by 50 %.
Results: Salt levels in food, monitored using commercial label data and information collected through an industry self-reporting framework, indicated that substantial reductions of up to 70 % in some foods had been achieved. The FSA's consumer campaign evaluation showed increased awareness of the benefits of reducing salt intake on health, with 43 % of adults in 2009 claiming to have made a special effort to reduce salt in their diet compared with 34 % of adults in 2004, before the campaign commenced.
Conclusions: The UK's salt reduction programme successfully reduced the average salt intake of the population and increased consumers' awareness. Significant challenges remain in achieving the population average salt intake of 6 g/d recommended by the UK's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. However, the UK has demonstrated the success of its programme and this approach is now being implemented elsewhere in the world.