CHENNAI: Your packet of bread may display nutritional details such as energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat content, but is mostly silent on salts. After studies established that bread and biscuits — in fact just any processed food — may have more salts than, say, a packet of wafers, a group of doctors and scientists from IITs are joining hands to lobby with the government to make it mandatory for packaged food to spell out salt content.
Salts or sodium added to food include sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate and sodium lactate, besides sodium chloride (table salt). Although the body needs salt for functions such as maintaining blood pressure and transmission of nerve impulses, most Indians take too much of it, leading to high blood pressure and increased risk of strokes, some types of cancers, heart and kidney diseases. While the WHO recommended intake for sodium is 2g and that of common salt is 5g, studies show Indians on an average consume 10.98g of salt every day.
A group of doctors, who are part of Chennai-based Sapiens Foundation, and experts from IIT-Madras and IIT-Bombay will be part of an international meet on salt awareness, to be held in Chennai and Mumbai next month. The gathering would brainstorm ways to get the government to bring in a legislation and create public awareness.