Implementation of a Population-wide Program to Reduce Salt and Sodium Consumption in Costa Rica
Population-wide salt reduction initiatives which target sodium levels in foods and consumer education have the potential to reduce salt intake across all population sectors and improve cardiovascular health outcomes. This project aims to produce evidence and tools to support policies and interventions to reduce salt intake in Costa Rica. There are several challenges to sodium reduction in low- and middle-income countries like Costa Rica. This includes the lack of - information related to sodium levels in processed and packaged foods; - consumer awareness about salt and its health effects; and, - standardized and regulated nutrition labeling. For example, some food categories, processed, and fast foods may not include nutritional labeling or may not provide sodium content. The research team will provide scientific evidence to identify the main dietary sources of salt/sodium in the Costa Rican diet. They will also report on students' knowledge, perceptions, and behaviuors related to salt/sodium, food labeling, and health. The evidence will serve as an evaluation baseline for the National Plan for Salt Intake Reduction in Costa Rica. Other countries in the region will benefit from Costa Rica's initiative and experience.