WHO urges countries to develop public policies to reduce sodium consumption
9 marzo 2023


Sodium intake. On March 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report entitled “Global report on sodium intake reduction“, with the aim of monitoring progress and identifying areas for action in the implementation of sodium reduction policies and other measures by member states. The document highlights that only 5% of WHO Member States have implemented mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies. Among them, it highlights the cases of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. However, it is difficult to reach the goal of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025, for which the international organization proposes the adoption of public policies by the States.

According to the WHO, the introduction of sodium reduction policies could save the lives of some 7 million people by 2030. Within this framework, the organization considers that a comprehensive approach is required, including the adoption of mandatory policies. Among the recommendations made in the document are: the reformulation of foods to have lower salt content and the establishment of targets on the amount of sodium in foods and portions; the establishment of public food purchasing policies to limit foods high in salt or sodium in public institutions; the introduction of front-of-package labeling that identifies which foods are high in sodium; and the implementation of communication campaigns to urge behavioral change.

In addition, for the first time, a country score system is introduced based on the level of implementation of sodium reduction policies and other measures. The Sodium Country Score is used to estimate the impact of policy progress on population dietary sodium intake and cardiovascular disease.

Next steps

WHO encourages countries to set targets for sodium content in processed foods, in line with the WHO global reference values for sodium, and to enforce them through these policies. If there is a political decision on the part of governments in the region to move forward on this issue, they are likely to take as a reference the cases of Latin American countries that the report mentions have a comprehensive set of recommended policies to reduce sodium intake, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay.

Engagement opportunity for McDonald’s

McDonald’s may participate in the process of formulating bills or regulations in public consultation when the Executive and Legislative Branches present initiatives on the points on which the WHO recommended to move forward. The participation of the private sector will be conditioned to the public actors allowing the participation of other social sectors in the debate. Likewise, the private sector can promote its own initiatives or campaigns to promote these behavioral changes and encourage the reduction of sodium consumption.