More people die from cardiovascular disease than any other cause in Ireland. A direct correlation exists between high salt intake and high blood pressure to ensuing cardiovascular diseases.
According to the Irish Heart Foundation, cardiovascular disease and strokes accounts for 36 per cent of all Irish deaths annually. There have been very significant advances in basic, clinical and translational research in the last decade.
The Foundation say that as the demands on service provision have increased there is a growing awareness that Ireland is not achieving its full potential to deliver on advanced diagnostics and therapeutics in both cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Michael Barry, a graduate of Cork Institute of Technology, recently won Best Paper in English at the 14th Annual International Association on Public and Nonprofit Marketing Conference in Brazil.
His paper entitled 'Shaking off the Salt Habit: The Gradual Reduction in Salt Consumption' dealt with how salt consumption can be reduced.
Michael’s research was conducted under the supervision of Maurice Murphy, lecturer in Business in CIT.
In depth interviews were conducted with leading professionals who are advocates in salt reduction, and his study showed a complete agreement on the dangers of a high salt diet.
Michael’s study advocates for a collaboration with the food industry. It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of the total dietary salt intake comes from manufactured or processed foods.
The study found that the use of different labelling systems causes confusion and a mandatory labelling system, such at the Traffic Light System, would help consumers to easily recognise salt content.
This is where food sold prepacked may be labelled with a traffic light label showing how much fat, saturated fats, sugar, and salt are in that food by using the traffic light signals for high (red), medium (amber) and low (green) percentages for each of these ingredients. Foods with 'green' indicators are healthier and to be preferred over those with 'red' ones.
Maurice Murphy said that Michael’s work "provides a valuable contribution to the debate on salt intake and I would hope that food producers will take note of this research. It is essential that action be taken to prioritise the reduction of salt from processed foods".
The recommended daily intake of salt is 5grms and the average daily intake is 10 grms, 80 per cent of which is involuntary. Michael, from Carrigaline in Cork completed his Business Degree and Masters in Business Research in CIT.