SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Korea Bizwire) – In 2010, the South Korean government announced plans to cut sodium intake by 20 percent by 2020. The initiative has made impressive progress since, so far bringing down the daily intake level to 3,871mg in 2015 – a 19.1 percent reduction – according to the Korea Health Promotion Foundation.
Overconsumption of sodium was identified as one of the major causes of death from Korea’s big three illnesses – stomach cancer, cerebrovascular diseases, and heart diseases.
When the first official observation of national sodium consumption began in 1998, the rate hovered between 4,500mg and 4,800mg, and then soared to 5,260mg in 2005. The number subsided a bit to 4,600mg – 4,800mg in the following years, and started dropping rapidly in 2012 (4,546mg) to 4,012mg in 2013, 3,874mg in 2014, and finally to 3,871mg last year.
Officials gave credit to the local food industry, which made a concerted effort to bring about the change.
Data from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute shows that 83 percent of the sodium consumption reduction between 2010 and 2013 was the result of lowered sodium content in processed foods, with the remaining 17 percent attributed to changing dietary patterns among Koreans.
By the end of 2015, 246 of the food products, including instant noodles, condiments, traditional pastes (i.e. gochujang), and kimchi, had their sodium content reduced, said the KHIDI.
“With additional companies introducing low-sodium products, it is highly likely for sodium intake from processed food to continue to decline,” an official said.
Although an impressive change, sodium consumption still remains high, especially compared to the WHO guidelines, which recommend less than 2,000mg per day.
Research has shown that the prolonged over-consumption of sodium can lead to heart and kidney diseases such as high blood pressure, cerebral apoplexy, and myocardial infarction, while also increasing the chances of obesity, asthma, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer.
While cutting down the overall intake of sodium, the government also planned to bring up the percentage of the population consuming 2,000mg or less sodium each day from 12.8 percent in 2008 to 30.8 percent by 2020.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)