High salt intake is not among the major causes of hypertension in Kenya.
Instead, a new report says most of causes are non-dietary considering the ‘safe’ amount of salt Kenyans consume.
The 2017 Global Nutrition Report has listed Kenya as one of the countries where salt consumption falls within desirable amounts, while the rest of the world is said to be consuming 'too much salt', a key cause of hypertension.
“The world consumes too much salt. Intake varies by region but no region had intakes within the World Health Organisation (WHO)-recommended limits of two grams of sodium a day,” the report said.
Asia had the highest intake of salt at 4.3g a day followed by Europe with 4.0g.
“At national level, only seven countries (Burundi, Comoros, Gabon, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda) have sodium intakes within desirable limits."
But the report did not reveal if the type of salt used contributes to increased chances of hypertension.
Salt intake, the study noted, plays a major role in hypertension and related illnesses such as stroke and cardiovascular disease. However, hypertension is also strongly determined by non-dietary factors such as genetics, ageing, smoking, stress and physical inactivity.
“An intake of greater than two grams a day of sodium (or one teaspoon of table salt) contributes to raised blood pressure, and is the maximum daily intake recommended by the WHO,” the report read.
“Reducing sodium intake across populations is also a ‘best buy’ for targeting non communicable diseases – a cost-effective, high-impact intervention that can be feasibly implemented even in resource-constrained settings.”
According to the 2017 Economic Survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, at least 5,000 people (5,799 in 2015 and 5,353 in 2016) die every year from heart-related diseases. It is estimated one in every five Kenyans has hypertension.
The report is surveying nutrition strides and gaps in countries subscribed to the Sustainable Development Goals.
And while Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has announced an allocation of Sh5 billion towards nutrition programmes, the report notes many countries were not investing enough, leading to a surge in hunger statistics. [Graham Kajilwa and Lucas Ngasike]