A University of Otago study has suggested the introduction of limits on the quantity of salt used in bread, meats and sauces and a tax on junk food to assist Kiwis in reducing their intake of salt.
The study, published by the department of public health at the University's Wellington campus, found that people from New Zealand can eat a low salt diet on a $9 a day budget.
A normal diet in New Zealand was a meat-based diet, including sausages for dinner, which contained about 1641 milligrams of sodium a day.
The research found that the average daily salt consumption for a Kiwi man is 4013 milligrams a day, which is double the recommended intake. The culprit is sauces, processed meat and bread which have salt hidden in the food. High salt content in food is connected to increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Associate Professor Nick Wilson, the study's lead author, said that the government could help by restricting the amount of salt in everyday products. "It could do this by regulating down the maximum level of salt permitted in commercially produced foods, particularly in bread, processed meats and sauces. A tax on junk food would also help as such food is usually high in salt as well as sugar and saturated fat. The money from such a tax could then fund healthy school lunches and help pay for better health services for diseases caused by high salt - especially stroke and heart attacks."