SaltSwitch was developed by Bupa and The George Institute for Global Health to step up the fight against Australians’ top causes of premature deaths – high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
Salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide – responsible for 9.5 million deaths annually.
Australians are eating more than double the daily recommended level of salt. Reducing salt intake by an average of 3 grams a day could reduce the number of deaths from stroke by a quarter and the number of deaths from coronary heart disease by one fifth.
Professor Bruce Neal from The George Institute and The University of Sydney said that many people simply don’t realise how much salt they’re consuming.
“Salt is a silent killer, and its impacts on your health are too often underestimated,” he said. “It’s really important that people understand a high salt diet is a key driver of high blood pressure, which in turn is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.
“And more than three quarters of our salt intake comes from processed and restaurant food, so simply removing the salt shaker from the dinner table won’t solve the problem.
“Importantly, this app can empower people to make informed choices that will make a real difference to their health in the long-term.”
Bupa’s Head of Clinical Advisory, Dr Stan Goldstein said that it is important to help people make decisions in the supermarket aisle that can literally save or cost lives.
“Offering a simple, free tool shoppers can have handy on their phones has the potential to make a big difference to purchasing habits.
“While we should all try and lower our salt intake, this app will be particularly beneficial for people diagnosed with high blood pressure who are trying to follow doctors’ orders to eat a low salt diet.”
While doctors and professionals have been enthusiastic about the original FoodSwitch app, they have also highlighted the need for tools to help people with specific health needs, such as those with high blood pressure or heart attack and stroke survivors.
National Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Erin Lalor said high blood pressure was the single biggest modifiable risk factor for stroke and reducing salt intake was one way people could keep their blood pressure in the healthy range.
“SaltSwitch is an easy way to check the salt content of the food you are buying and we hope it will encourage people using it to choose an alternative product with a lower salt content,” Dr Lalor said.
Users can scan the barcode of packaged food using their smartphone camera to receive immediate, easy to understand salt and nutrition information on more than 30,000 products on Australian supermarket shelves.
When a product is scanned, the app indicates by a ‘traffic light’ symbol whether it is low in salt content (green), should be consumed in moderation (amber) or is high in salt (red). Where possible, the app also lists alternative low content salt products. Where there are no amber or green alternatives people should choose to eat something different.
For more information, or to download the app, go to www.bupa.com.au/foodswitch
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