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Sodium reduction regulations in South Africa – the consumer perspective

N Koen
ML Marais
Y Smit
DG Nel
L Engelbrecht


The prevalence of adult hypertension has increased at an alarming rate in recent years in South Africa. Salt reduction legislation is considered a cost-effective way to reduce this burden, as salt is a driver of hypertension. This cross-sectional, descriptive study aimed to determine consumers’ awareness of, and perceptions towards, the salt legislation, and their salt consumption habits. An interviewer-administered survey was used to gather data from literate adult consumers (N=583) at four randomly selected shopping malls in the Tygerberg Health sub-district, City of Cape Town. More than half (56.9%) of all participants tried to consume less salt because they thought it was healthier (38.3%) yet processed foods were a major source of salt in their diets (50.4%). Only 16.5% of participants were aware of the national salt legislation. Almost half of participants (47.9%) thought the legislation would affect the taste of food negatively, yet 80.9% have not noticed a change after implementation of the first phase of the legislation. To conclude, regulating manufacturers of food products could facilitate a reduction in population salt intake. An integrative strategy and collaboration between all stakeholders with regards to legislation, labelling and health education is needed in order to achieve health targets for population salt reduction.

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eISSN: 0378-5254