PUTRAJAYA: Malaysians, above the age of 18, on average consume 7.15gm of salt daily, two grams higher than the give grams recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, in saying this also believed that the consumption was even higher among those below the age of 18.
"This is because children below that age always show preference for food with high content of salt such as fast food, processed food, chips and snacks," he told reporters yesterday, in conjunction with 2018 World Salt Awareness Week themed "5 Ways to 5 Grams".
The My Salt 2015 study conducted by the ministry had listed 20 food type with salt content; which include soya sauce, fried rice, omelette, nasi lemak, dark soya sauce, roti canai, beef soup, fried mee, oyster sauce, instant noodle, chili and tomato sauce, shrimp paste, "budu", chicken rice, fried vegetables, fish sambal, spice-fried chicken, fish cake, fried kueh teow and fried mee hoon.
He said the ministry is aiming to reduce the salt consumption of to at least 6 grams by 2050.
To curb the excessive intake of salt among children, he said the ministry is working with the Education Ministry to monitor and control the food prepared and provided by school canteen operators to students, he added.
Dr Subramaniam said high consumption or excessive of salt intake could lead to the risk of hypertension whereby uncontrolled hypertension condition could lead to heart related diseases and stroke which would eventually cause death.
He also noted that Malaysians in particular are fond of food with high level of sodium or salt such as tomato and chili sauce, soya sauce, canned food, processed and frozen food and flavour enhancer like monosodium glutamate (MSG), salted fish and more.
"Our people have the knowledge on risk of consumption however they fail to practice good or rather healthy eating habit," he added.
As recommended by the WHO, he said, it hoped that salt intake among Malaysian can be reduced by 30 per cent by 2025.
The ministry, with the joint cooperation of various bodies such as players in the food industry as non-governmental bodies were currently conducting M (Monitoring), A (Awareness), P (Product) Strategy as stated in the Salt Reduction Strategy to Prevent and Control NCD 2015-2020.
This, he said, was to reduce the consumption of salt among Malaysian.
"The strategy comprises monitoring the intake and source of salt , the preparation promotional items and education on salt and healthy lifestyle.
Apart from that, the ministry is expediting a regulation on mandatory labeling of sodium content on food products, with sodium level.
"For this move, we want all food products to be labelled with markers to indicate high sodium food and healthy food.
"However, this is still in its initial stages of implementation. We still need the cooperation and commitment of all parties to make ensure successful implementation," he added.
The awareness week held between March 12 to March 18, also encourages five steps to healthier eating; among are healthy food choices, reduction of salt and ingredients with high sodium in cooking, replacing salt with spices and genuine flavouring, increase vegetable intake, practice cooking at home than eating out.