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Study reveals ‘alarming’ dietary trends across North India

Findings highlight the need for public awareness campaigns and food policy reforms

Vishwam Sankaran
Friday 15 March 2024 11:23 GMT
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A comprehensive new study has revealed “alarming” trends among North Indian populations including excessive salt consumption and inadequate potassium intake.

The intake of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein, have an impact on the risk of developing non-communicable diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease – fast-growing health challenges in India.

In the new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers conducted 24-hour urinary excretion analysis in 400 adult participants including healthy adults and those with early-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The study flagged “alarming trends” among the population, including excessive salt consumption surpassing recommended levels, inadequate potassium intake linked to the risk of development of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and CKD, as well as protein consumption below the recommended dietary allowance.

“The combination of higher than recommended sodium and lower than recommended potassium intake collectively raises cardiovascular disease risk,” researchers warned.

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The findings highlight the need for public awareness campaigns, food policy reforms, and individual counseling for personalised diet changes to reduce the risks of common non-communicable diseases.

“A poor nutritious diet is a major risk element for non-communicable diseases (NCD), which are of considerable public health concern,” study co-author Vivekanand Jha from The George Institute for Global Health said.

“The high salt intake and low potassium intake point to the need to develop interventions targeted to individuals and societies,” he added.

Researchers suggest using multifaceted strategies such as providing better information on food labels so people can make healthier choices, and reducing salt in processed foods.

“The study shows that it is important to have dietary guidelines that are specific to local area. We need to take action to fix imbalances in nutrients and encourage people to eat more healthily by increasing diversity,” Dr Jha said.

They also call for campaigns to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables rich in potassium.

“These findings help the development of targeted policies for dietary modification to reduce the risk of the development and progression of CKD,” the study concluded.

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