People in China consume 10 grams of salt a day on average, twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization, and over the past four decades adults in China have had among the highest salt consumption in the world.
Salt intake in China is confirmed to be among the highest in the world, with adults over the past four decades consistently consuming on average above 10g of salt a day, which is more than twice the recommended limit, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London.
The systematic review and meta-analysis, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also found that Chinese children aged 3-6 are eating the maximum amount of salt recommended by the World Health Organization for adults (5g a day) while older children eat almost 9g/day.
Excess salt intake raises blood pressure, a major cause of strokes and heart disease, which accounts for approximately 40 per cent of deaths in the Chinese population.
The team reviewed all data ever published on salt intake in China (which involved about 900 children and 26,000 adults across the country) and found that salt intake has been consistently high over the past four decades, with a North-South divide.
While salt intake in northern China is among the highest in the world (11.2g a day) it has been declining since the 1980s when it was 12.8g a day, and most markedly since the 2000s.
This could be the result of both governmental efforts in salt awareness education and the lessened reliance on pickled food -- owing to a greater year-round availability of vegetables.
However, this trend of decrease was not seen in southern China, which has vastly increased from 8.8g a day in the 1980s to 10.2g a day in the 2010s.
This could be due to governmental efforts being mitigated by the growing consumption of processed foods and out-of-home meals.
These latest results contradict those of previous studies based on less robust data which reported declines in salt intake across the country.