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To assess current salt† reduction policies in countries of the WHO European Region against the backdrop of varying levels of human development adjusted for income, education and health (longevity) inequalities.
Population-based, cross-sectional study, with data gathered through systematic review of relevant databases and supplementary information provided by WHO Nutrition Counterparts.
Member States of the WHO European Region.
Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index scores were analysed against assessed levels of development and implementation of national nutrition policies and initiatives targeting population-level salt reduction.
Within the WHO European Region, Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index values among countries with no existing salt reduction initiatives (mean 0·643 (se 0·022)) were significantly lower than among those with either partially implemented/planned salt initiatives (mean 0·766 (se 0·017), P < 0·001) or fully implemented salt initiatives (mean 0·780 (se 0·021), P < 0·001).
Where salt reduction strategies are implemented as an integral part of national policy, outcomes have been promising. However, low- and middle-income countries may face severe resource constraints that keep them from emulating more comprehensive strategies pursued in high-income countries. Care must be taken to ensure that gaps are not inadvertently widened by monitoring differential policy impacts of salt policies, particularly regarding trade flows.
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