A salt-reduction smartphone app supports lower-salt food purchases for people with cardiovascular disease: Findings from the SaltSwitch randomised controlled trial

Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2017 Sep;24(13):1435-1444. doi: 10.1177/2047487317715713. Epub 2017 Jun 20.


Background SaltSwitch is an innovative smartphone application (app) that enables shoppers to scan the barcode of a packaged food and receive an immediate, interpretive, traffic light nutrition label on the screen, along with suggestions for lower salt alternatives. Our aim was to determine the effectiveness of SaltSwitch to support people with cardiovascular disease to make lower salt food choices. Design Six-week, two-arm, parallel, randomised controlled trial in Auckland, New Zealand (2 weeks baseline and 4 weeks intervention). Methods Sixty-six adults with diagnosed cardiovascular disease (mean (SD) age 64 (7) years) were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to either the SaltSwitch smartphone app or control (usual care). The primary outcome was the salt content of household packaged food purchases during the 4-week intervention (g/MJ). Secondary outcomes were the saturated fat content (g/MJ), energy content (kJ/kg) and expenditure (NZ$) of household food purchases; systolic blood pressure (mmHg), urinary sodium (mg) and use and acceptability of the SaltSwitch app. Results Thirty-three participants with cardiovascular disease were allocated to the SaltSwitch intervention, and 33 to the control group. A significant reduction in mean household purchases of salt was observed (mean difference (95% confidence interval), -0.30 (-0.58 to -0.03) g/MJ), equating to a reduction of ∼0.7 g of salt per person per day during the 4-week intervention phase. There were no significant between-group differences in any secondary outcomes (all P > 0.05). Conclusions The SaltSwitch smartphone app is effective in supporting people with cardiovascular disease to make lower salt food purchases. A larger trial with longer follow-up is warranted to determine the effects on blood pressure. Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=365784&isReview=true ACTRN12614000206628.

Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; cellular phone; heart diseases; salt; secondary prevention; self-care; smartphone; sodium; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Food Labeling / methods*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smartphone*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / pharmacology*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12614000206628