This systematic review aims to document salt consumption patterns and the implementation status and potential impact of salt reduction initiatives in Africa, from studies published between January 2009 and November 2019. Studies were sourced using MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library electronic databases, and gray literature. Of the 887 records retrieved, 38 studies conducted in 18 African countries were included. Twelve studies measured population salt intake, 11 examined salt level in foods, 11 assessed consumer knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, 1 study evaluated a behavior change intervention, and 3 studies modeled potential health gains and cost savings of salt reduction interventions. The population salt intake studies determined by 24-hour urine collections showed that the mean (SD) salt intake in African adults ranged from 6.8 (2.2) g to 11.3 (5.4) g/d. Salt levels in foods were generally high, and consumer knowledge was fairly high but did not seem to translate into salt lowering behaviors. Modeling studies showed that interventions for reducing dietary sodium would generate large health gains and cost savings for the health system. Despite this evidence, adoption of population salt reduction strategies in Africa has been slow, and dietary consumption of sodium remains high. Only South Africa adopted legislation in 2016 to reduce population salt intake, but success of this intervention has not yet been fully evaluated. Thus, rigorous evaluation of the salt reduction legislation in South Africa and initiation of salt reduction programs in other African countries will be vital to achieving the targeted 30% reduction in salt intake by 2025.
- salt intake
- salt reduction
- systematic literature review
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine