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China Debuts First-of-its-kind Salt Reduction Mass Media Campaign

China leads the world in strokes and heart attacks caused by eating too much salt

(New York, NY) This week, the Chinese government debuted, “Love with Less Salt,” the country’s first major mass media campaign to dramatically depict the dangers of the high salt diet common in China. The eight-week long campaign is the cornerstone of the government’s mass media effort to prompt actions to curb high salt consumption. “Love with Less Salt” will run on China Central Television (CCTV), China’s primary state television broadcaster, and in Shandong and Anhui Provinces, which have a combined population exceeding 160 million people. The campaign was developed with China’s National Health Commission, Shandong and Anhui Health Commissions, and the Shandong and Anhui Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Excess salt kills at least four hundred thousand people in China every year,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “The Chinese government has set a goal to reduce salt intake by 20% by 2030. The ad empowers consumers to make healthier choices. This public education effort, along with the government’s recent action to lower the recommended amount of salt to 5 grams per day, are important steps towards achieving their goal.”

Average salt intake in China is 10.5 grams per day, more than double the amount recommended by the World Health Organization and is among the highest in the world. High salt diets are directly linked to high blood pressure, kidney failure and stroke. The ad recommends no more than 5 grams of salt each day to improve heart health.

Data show that the primary source of sodium in China is salt added during home cooking. In addition to showing the disabling effect of stroke, “Love with Less Salt” shows popular foods that are high in salt, such as pickles, as well as a measuring spoon with the recommended amount of salt per day.

“Vital Strategies is excited to be working with Shandong and Anhui on a mass media campaign to reduce salt consumption, a leading cause of hypertension,” said Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Communications at Vital Strategies. “The campaign was developed using rigorous local research on the messages that would prompt people to change attitudes and ultimately behavior. We are optimistic that this effort will contribute to the broader effort underway of reducing salt intake and improving health in China.”

“Love with Less Salt” will air on television and radio for eight weeks, and billboards and posters relaying the ad’s key messages will be posted in Shandong and Anhui provinces during the 2- month campaign period. The campaign will be supported by community education events in major cities in these two provinces, such as healthy recipe competitions, guest speakers at large gatherings and printed materials in public facilities. 

Additional information:

  • The Chinese government has instituted several programs to lower salt intake:
    • Sodium must be labeled on food products.
    • In early 2018, optional nutrition guidelines for school meals went into effect, which aim to reduce salt to 5 grams and ≤6 grams of salt per day for students aged 6 to 14 years and 15 to 17 years, respectively.
    • The China Healthy Lifestyle for All Initiative includes education programs and campaigns to lower salt intake as well as programs to encourage salt reduction in different settings.
    • Healthy China 2030 Action Plan advocates daily sodium intake no more than 5 grams per day.
    • Shandong Province has implemented the SMASH project from 2011 to 2015 to reduce salt intake in Shandong.

Media Contact:

Erin Sykes, Resolve to Save Lives: esykes@resolvetosavelives.org; +1.646.612.0001

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1.914.424.3356

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates Philanthropy Partners, which is funded with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and housed at Vital Strategies. To find out more visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health progress. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that can save millions of lives. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.