Modeling health gains and cost savings for ten dietary salt reduction targets.
Wilson N., Nghiem N., Eyles H., Mhurchu CN., Shields E., Cobiac LJ., Cleghorn CL., Blakely T.
BACKGROUND: Dietary salt reduction is included in the top five priority actions for non-communicable disease control internationally. We therefore aimed to identify health gain and cost impacts of achieving a national target for sodium reduction, along with component targets in different food groups. METHODS: We used an established dietary sodium intervention model to study 10 interventions to achieve sodium reduction targets. The 2011 New Zealand (NZ) adult population (2.3 million aged 35+ years) was simulated over the remainder of their lifetime in a Markov model with a 3 % discount rate. RESULTS: Achieving an overall 35 % reduction in dietary salt intake via implementation of mandatory maximum levels of sodium in packaged foods along with reduced sodium from fast foods/restaurant food and discretionary intake (the "full target"), was estimated to gain 235,000 QALYs over the lifetime of the cohort (95 % uncertainty interval [UI]: 176,000 to 298,000). For specific target components the range was from 122,000 QALYs gained (for the packaged foods target) down to the snack foods target (6100 QALYs; and representing a 34-48 % sodium reduction in such products). All ten target interventions studied were cost-saving, with the greatest costs saved for the mandatory "full target" at NZ$1260 million (US$820 million). There were relatively greater health gains per adult for men and for Māori (indigenous population). CONCLUSIONS: This work provides modeling-level evidence that achieving dietary sodium reduction targets (including specific food category targets) could generate large health gains and cost savings for a national health sector. Demographic groups with the highest cardiovascular disease rates stand to gain most, assisting in reducing health inequalities between sex and ethnic groups.