Patient Education The Use of Mass Media in the Need to Reduce Discretionary Salt Use in South Africa

Unilever’s salt reduction strategy is our commitment to reduce, systematically, the amount of salt in our products right across our portfolio, in an effort to help consumers meet the World Health Organization (WHO) daily salt intake recommendations. We have committed that by 2020, 75% of our Foods portfolio will meet the criteria consistent with the recommended intakes of 5g salt per day. The WHO has called for 5g/d salt intakes to be achieved by 2025.

In a strategic plan to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) by reducing population salt intake to less than 5 g/day, Unilever commissioned a mass media campaign to increase public awareness of the association between high salt intake, blood pressure and CVD, focusing on the reduction of discretionary salt intake.

Community based surveys, before and after the campaign, were conducted in a group of black women aged 18–55 years. Questions on knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding salt use were asked. Current interest in engaging with salt reduction behaviours was assessed using the “stage of change” model. Five hundred and fifty women participated in the baseline study and 477 in the follow-up survey. Most of the indicators of knowledge, attitudes and behaviour change show a significant move towards considering and initiating reduced or low salt consumption. In particular, adding salt while cooking and at the table occurred significantly less frequently.

The findings suggest that mass media campaigns may be an effective tool to use, as part of a strategy to reduce discretionary consumption of salt among the population along with other methods. To read the full article, please visit