Unpack the Salt: an evaluation of the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership's media advocacy activities to highlight the salt content of different foods.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Australians are consuming almost double the recommended maximum salt intake. The Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership was established to coordinate efforts to reduce salt intake in the state of Victoria. As part of an intervention strategy, media advocacy strategies were used to raise public awareness and stimulate industry and government action on salt reduction. This study aimed to evaluate the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership's media advocacy activities by determining the extent to which activities contributed to the overall strategy aims and the effectiveness of the activities in gaining media and industry engagement. METHODS:A framework for evaluating media advocacy strategies used in complex public health interventions was used to guide this evaluation. Media advocacy activities were monitored and documented throughout the intervention period. A content analysis of media release press statements was performed. Indicators of media coverage (media items, cumulative audience reach, advertising space rate) and food industry engagement (number of meetings, number and type of follow up actions) were tracked. RESULTS:Six media releases were issued between March 2017 and November 2018 on different processed food categories including breads, cooking sauces, ready meals, dips and crackers, processed meats and Asian-style sauces. Three main themes were identified in the qualitative analysis of the press statements: general information on salt and health, salt levels in foods, and calls to action for consumers, industry and/or government. These themes were aligned with the overall intervention strategy. Media items (print and online news, radio and TV) generated by each release ranged from 36 to 274, and cumulative audience reach (opportunities to see) ranged from 2.3 to 7.5 million Australians per release. One to three food manufacturers were met with per media release. CONCLUSIONS:Disseminating sodium-monitoring data through media releases can be used as a tool to gain access to the media and reach consumers with salt reduction messages, and to engage food manufacturers in discussions about salt reduction. Characteristics of media advocacy activities, including alignment with the overall strategy, and external factors outside the of control of the program implementers, can influence media and industry engagement. When planning future nutrition interventions that include media advocacy activities, internal and external factors impacting outcomes, should be considered, documented and evaluated.
Project description:The Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership (VicSalt Partnership) was launched in 2015, bringing together health and research organisations to develop an action plan for salt reduction interventions at a state level. A comprehensive evaluation was designed to assess the impact of the resulting four-year intervention strategy. As part of the process evaluation, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with stakeholders in March?May 2017, to understand perceived barriers and enablers to effective strategy implementation. Data were coded in relation to the key topic areas of the interviews with an inductive method used to analyse themes within topics. Seventeen stakeholders were contacted, 14 completed an interview; five from state government or statutory agencies, four from non-government funded organisations, four from research organisations and one from the food industry. Twelve were members of the VicSalt Partnership and two were informal collaborators. Most stakeholders viewed the VicSalt Partnership as a positive example of working collaboratively, and said this was essential for raising awareness of the importance of salt reduction with consumers, the food industry, and the government. Challenges relating to engaging the food industry and federal government through a state-led initiative were identified. New approaches to overcome this, such as forming clear "asks" to government and committing industry to "pledges" on reformulation were suggested. Stakeholder interviews and qualitative analysis have provided a range of important insights into barriers and enablers, many of which have already been used to strengthen intervention implementation. The evaluation of the VicSalt Partnership is ongoing and the program is expected to provide a wealth of lessons for state-led interventions to reduce salt intake in Australia and globally.
Project description:The decisions made by food companies are a potent factor shaping the nutritional quality of the food supply. A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) advocate for corporate action to reduce salt levels in foods, but few data define the effectiveness of advocacy. This present report describes the process evaluation of an advocacy intervention delivered by one Australian NGO directly to food companies to reduce the salt content of processed foods. Food companies were randomly assigned to intervention (n = 22) or control (n = 23) groups. Intervention group companies were exposed to pre-planned and opportunistic communications, and control companies to background activities. Seven pre-defined interim outcome measures provided an indication of the effect of the intervention and were assessed using intention-to-treat analysis. These were supplemented by qualitative data from nine semi-structured interviews. The mean number of public communications supporting healthy food made by intervention companies was 1.5 versus 1.8 for control companies (p = 0.63). Other outcomes, including the mean number of news articles, comments and reports (1.2 vs. 1.4; p = 0.72), a published nutrition policy (23% vs. 44%; p = 0.21), public commitment to the Australian government's Food and Health Dialogue (FHD) (41% vs. 61%; p = 0.24), evidence of a salt reduction plan (23% vs. 30%; p = 0.56), and mean number of communications with the NGO (15 vs. 11; p = 0.28) were also not significantly different. Qualitative data indicated the advocacy trial had little effect. The absence of detectable effects of the advocacy intervention on the interim markers indicates there may be no impact of the NGO advocacy trial on the primary outcome of salt reduction in processed foods.
Project description:The freezing of the food is one of the most important technological developments for the storage of food in terms of quality and safety. The aim of this work was to study the role of an ice structuring protein (ISP) on freezing-thawing cycles of different solutions and commercial Italian pasta sauces. Ice structuring proteins were related to the modification of the structure of ice. The results showed that the freezing time of an aqueous solution containing the protein was reduced to about 20% with respect to a pure water solution. The same effect was demonstrated in sugar-containing solutions and in lipid-containing sauces. The study proved a specific role of ISP during thawing, inducing a time decrease similar to that of freezing and even more important in the case of tomato-based sauces. This work demonstrated the role of ISP in the freezing-thawing process, showing a significant reduction of processing in the freezing and thawing phase by adding the protein to pure water and different sugar-, salt- and lipid-containing solutions and commercial sauces, with considerable benefits for the food industry in terms of costs and food quality.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Given the high importance of dietary sodium (salt) as a global disease risk factor, our objective was to compare the impact of eight sodium reduction interventions, including feasible and more theoretical ones, to assist prioritisation.<h4>Methods</h4>Epidemiological modelling and cost-utility analysis were performed using a Markov macro-simulation model. The setting was New Zealand (NZ) (2.3 million citizens, aged 35+ years) which has detailed individual-level administrative cost data.<h4>Results</h4>Of the most feasible interventions, the largest health gains were from (in descending order): (i) mandatory 25% reduction in sodium levels in all processed foods; (ii) the package of interventions performed in the United Kingdom (UK); (iii) mandatory 25% reduction in sodium levels in bread, processed meats and sauces; (iv) media campaign (as per a previous UK one); (v) voluntary food labelling as currently used in NZ; (vi) dietary counselling as currently used in NZ. Even larger health gains came from the more theoretical options of a "sinking lid" on the amount of food salt released to the national market to achieve an average adult intake of 2300 mg sodium/day (211,000 QALYs gained, 95% uncertainty interval: 170,000-255,000), and from a salt tax. All the interventions produced net cost savings (except counseling--albeit still cost-effective). Cost savings were especially large with the sinking lid (NZ$ 1.1 billion, US$ 0.7 billion). Also the salt tax would raise revenue (up to NZ$ 452 million/year). Health gain per person was greater for M?ori (indigenous population) men and women compared to non-M?ori.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This study substantially expands on the range of previously modelled salt reduction interventions and suggests that some of these might achieve major health gains and major cost savings (particularly the regulatory interventions). They could also reduce ethnic inequalities in health.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Corporate decisions affecting the composition of processed foods are a potent factor shaping the nutritional quality of the food supply. The addition of large quantities of salt to foods is incompatible with Australian Dietary Guidelines and the reformulation of processed foods to have less salt is a focus of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). There is evidence that advocacy can influence corporate behaviour but there are few data to define the effects of NGOs working in the food space. The aim of this study is to quantify the effects of advocacy delivered by a local NGO on the salt content of food products produced or marketed by companies in Australia. METHODS/DESIGN:This is a cluster-randomised controlled trial that will be done in Australia from 2013 to 2015 which includes 45 food companies. The 23 companies in the control group will receive no specific intervention whilst the 22 companies in the intervention group will receive an advocacy program based upon an established theory of change model. The primary outcome will be the mean change in sodium content (mg/100 g) of processed foods produced or marketed by intervention compared to control companies assessed at 24 months. Interim outcomes (statements of support, published nutrition policies, level of engagement, knowledge and use of technology to reduce salt, salt reduction plans, and support for national initiatives) will also be assessed and a qualitative evaluation will provide more detailed insight. DISCUSSION:This novel study will provide robust randomised evidence about the effects of advocacy on food company behaviour and the quality of the processed food supply. A finding of improved food company behaviour will highlight the potential for greater investment in advocacy whilst the opposite result will reinforce the importance of government-led initiatives for the improvement of the food supply. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02373423. 26/02/2015.
Project description:There is an increasing public health concern regarding high salt intake, which is generally between 9 and 12?g per day, and much higher than the 5?g recommended by World Health Organization. Several relevant sectors of the food industry are engaged in salt reduction, but it is a challenge to reduce salt in products without compromising on taste, shelf-life or expense for consumers. The objective was to develop globally applicable salt reduction criteria as guidance for product reformulation.Two sets of product group-specific sodium criteria were developed to reduce salt levels in foods to help consumers reduce their intake towards an interim intake goal of 6?g/day, and—on the longer term—5?g/day. Data modelling using survey data from the United States, United Kingdom and Netherlands was performed to assess the potential impact on population salt intake of cross-industry food product reformulation towards these criteria.Modelling with 6 and 5?g/day criteria resulted in estimated reductions in population salt intake of 25 and 30% for the three countries, respectively, the latter representing an absolute decrease in the median salt intake of 1.8-2.2?g/day.The sodium criteria described in this paper can serve as guidance for salt reduction in foods. However, to enable achieving an intake of 5?g/day, salt reduction should not be limited to product reformulation. A multi-stakeholder approach is needed to make consumers aware of the need to reduce their salt intake. Nevertheless, dietary impact modelling shows that product reformulation by food industry has the potential to contribute substantially to salt-intake reduction.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Scientific evidence indicates that high dietary salt intake has detrimental effects on blood pressure and associated cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, limited information is available on how to implement salt reduction in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as India, where the burden of hypertension and CVD is increasing rapidly. As part of a large study to create the evidence base required to develop a salt reduction strategy for India, we assessed the perspectives of various stakeholders regarding developing an India specific salt reduction strategy. METHODS:A qualitative research design was deployed to elicit various stakeholder's (government and policy-related stakeholders, industry, civil Society, consumers) perspectives on a salt reduction strategy for India, using in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs). We used an inductive approach for data analysis. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis method. RESULTS:Forty-two IDIs and eight FGDs were conducted with various stakeholders of interest and relevance. Analysis indicated three major themes: 1. Barriers for salt reduction 2. Facilitators for salt reduction; 3. Strategies for salt reduction. Most of the stakeholders were in alignment with the need for a salt reduction programme in India to prevent and control hypertension and related CVD. Major barriers indicated by the stakeholders for salt reduction in India were social and cultural beliefs, a large unorganized food retail sector, and the lack of proper implementation of even existing food policies. Stakeholders from the food industry reported that there might be decreased sales due to salt reduction. Major facilitators included the fact that: salt reduction is currently a part of the National Multi-Sectoral Action Plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, salt reduction and salt iodine programme are compatible, and that few of the multinational food companies have already started working in the direction of initiating efforts for salt reduction. Based on the barriers and facilitators, few of the recommendations are to generate awareness among consumers, promote salt reduction by processed food industry, and implement consumer friendly food labelling. CONCLUSIONS:In this study of multiple key influential stakeholders in India, most of the stakeholders were in alignment with the need for a salt reduction programme in India to prevent and control hypertension and related CVD. The development and adoption of the National Multi-sectoral Action Plan to reduce premature non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India, provides a potential platform that can be leveraged to drive, implement and monitor salt reduction efforts.
Project description:Evidence for recommended interventions to reduce population salt intake come from high-income countries, but it is unknown if these can be successfully replicated in low- and middle-income countries. This process evaluation investigated the reach, dose/adoption, fidelity, cost, and context of a national salt reduction program of interventions in Samoa.Monitoring and Action on Salt in Samoa (MASIMA) was a pre- and post-intervention study of a government-led strategy to lower population salt intake comprising awareness campaigns, community mobilization and policy and environmental changes. Data relating to the five process evaluation dimensions were collected from routinely collected data, a post-intervention survey and stakeholder interviews. Chi-squared tests assessed differences in quantitative survey responses among groups. Thematic analysis of qualitative interview responses was undertaken and triangulated with the quantitative data.Awareness campaigns, school nutrition standards, and community mobilization interventions were implemented with moderate reach and fidelity. Higher than expected costs of campaigns and limited opportunity (one-off) to mobilize community leaders to disseminate salt reduction messages were key implementation challenges, which meant intervention dose was low. Environmental-level initiatives including engagement with the food industry to voluntary reduce salt in foods and the introduction of salt-related regulations were more challenging to implement within 18-months, particularly given the delay in the passing of the Food Act which provides for enforcement of regulations. Contextual factors that hindered the interventions' mechanism of effect include the food culture, higher cost, and lower availability of healthy low-salt foods relative to unhealthy foods and salty taste preference.Although individual and community-based interventions helped increase awareness about the importance of salt reduction in Samoa, legislative backing was needed to alter the food environment to achieve population reduction in salt intake. It was not possible to engage the food industry to lower salt in foods through a voluntary approach in Samoa's current context, although such initiatives were successful in some high-income countries. Future individual and environmental-level interventions to reduce salt intake need to address the contextual influences of food choices. In Samoa, this means salt reduction strategies need to ensure consuming lower salt is affordable, widely available, and perceived as flavorsome.
Project description:The Australian population consumes more salt than recommended and this increases the risk of raised blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In 2015, a state-wide initiative was launched in the Australian state of Victoria to reduce population salt intake. This study examines whether salt-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors (KABs) of Victorian adults changed following the first 22 months of a consumer awareness campaign targeting parents. Repeated cross-sectional surveys of adults (18-65 years) recruited from research panels. Analyses were weighted to reflect the Victorian population. In both surveys mean age of participants (1584 in 2015 and 2141 in 2018) was 41 years, and 51% were female. This includes 554 parents/caregivers in 2015 and 799 in 2018. Most indicators of KAB remained unchanged. Among parents/caregivers the percentage who agreed limiting salt in their child's diet was important increased by 8% (p = 0.001), and there was a 10% reduction in the percentage who reported placing a saltshaker on the table and a 9% reduction in those who reported their child added salt at the table (both p < 0.001). Some small adverse effects on other indicators were also observed. During the first 22 months of a salt reduction consumer awareness campaign, there were limited changes in KAB overall, however the target audience reported positive changes regarding their children, which aligned with the campaign messages.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is rising in middle income countries. Population based strategies to reduce specific CHD risk factors have an important role to play in reducing overall CHD mortality. Reducing dietary salt consumption is a potentially cost-effective way to reduce CHD events. This paper presents an economic evaluation of population based salt reduction policies in Tunisia, Syria, Palestine and Turkey. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Three policies to reduce dietary salt intake were evaluated: a health promotion campaign, labelling of food packaging and mandatory reformulation of salt content in processed food. These were evaluated separately and in combination. Estimates of the effectiveness of salt reduction on blood pressure were based on a literature review. The reduction in mortality was estimated using the IMPACT CHD model specific to that country. Cumulative population health effects were quantified as life years gained (LYG) over a 10 year time frame. The costs of each policy were estimated using evidence from comparable policies and expert opinion including public sector costs and costs to the food industry. Health care costs associated with CHDs were estimated using standardized unit costs. The total cost of implementing each policy was compared against the current baseline (no policy). All costs were calculated using 2010 PPP exchange rates. In all four countries most policies were cost saving compared with the baseline. The combination of all three policies (reducing salt consumption by 30%) resulted in estimated cost savings of $235,000,000 and 6455 LYG in Tunisia; $39,000,000 and 31674 LYG in Syria; $6,000,000 and 2682 LYG in Palestine and $1,3000,000,000 and 378439 LYG in Turkey. CONCLUSION: Decreasing dietary salt intake will reduce coronary heart disease deaths in the four countries. A comprehensive strategy of health education and food industry actions to label and reduce salt content would save both money and lives.