Member states of the WHO, including India, have adopted a target 30% reduction in mean population salt consumption by 2025 to prevent noncommunicable diseases. Our aim was to support this initiative by summarizing existing data that describe mean salt consumption in India.
Electronic databases – MEDLINE via Ovid, EMBASE, CINAHL and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews – were searched up to November 2015 for studies that reported mean or median dietary salt intake in Indian adults aged 19 years and older. Random effects meta-analysis was used to obtain summary estimates of salt intake.
Of 1201 abstracts identified, 90 were reviewed in full text and 21 were included: 18 cross-sectional surveys (n = 225 024), two randomized trials (n = 255) and one case–control study (n = 270). Data were collected between 1986 and 2014, and reported mean salt consumption levels were between 5.22 and 42.30 g/day. With an extreme outlier excluded, overall mean weighted salt intake was 10.98 g/day (95% confidence interval 8.57–13.40). There was significant heterogeneity between the estimates for contributing studies (I2 = 99.97%) (P homogeneity ≤0.001), which was likely attributable to the different measurement methods used and the different populations studied. There was no evidence of a change in intake over time (P trend = 0.08).
The available data leave some uncertainty about exact mean salt consumption in India but there is little doubt that population salt consumption far exceeds the WHO-recommended maximum of 5 g per person per day.