Qatar: What will happen to Bread?!
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) confirmed that the all the bakeries in Qatar are committed to the voluntary initiative to reduce the use of salt by 30 percent as an important step in the initiative that was launched in 2014. This supports a healthy lifestyle and prevents risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases.
Manager of Health Promotion and Non-Communicable Diseases at MoPH Dr Al Anoud bint Mohammed Al Thani said that the ministry cooperated with various bakeries around the State to decrease the use of salt in their baking. She highlighted the success of the initiative saying these bakeries reduced the usage from 20 percent to 30 percent in their production as part of a non-binding initiative.
She explained that the ministry periodically inspects the dough used in the production as well as the bread itself, which confirmed that the bakeries have reduced salt in baking. She considered this a positive step to reduce salt in all food, confirming that using large amounts of salts cause many diseases, prominently hypertension and heart and kidney diseases.
In celebration of World Salt Awareness Day, MoPH is organizing activities to be held between March 12 and March 28. The event includes educational activities on the dangers of using large amounts of salt in foods.
She said the initiative of reducing salt intake comes as part of the goals of the Qatar National Nutrition and Physical Activity Action Plan 2017-2022, and is a complementary step to the efforts of the ministry to support a healthy lifestyle in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and in compliance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global targets 2025.
Dr Al Anoud said the studies revealed that large salt intake results in increased rates of cardiovascular disease, blood vessels diseases and hypertension, which are considered some of the main reasons for death in the world. Based on this, the WHO recommended to reduce salt intake in foods so that the average per person daily consumption is not more than 5 grams per day, she said.
She revealed that the national progressive survey of non-communicable chronic diseases and its risk factors done in 2012 for Qataris between the age of 18 to 64 showed that prevalence of hypertension among females was 37.7 percent and 28 percent for males and the average rate of infection among adults was 33 percent. The survey also showed that 50 percent of the Qatari Adults have three or more risk factors leading to chronic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Al Anoud said that the Ministry is working to involve the international institutions concerned with health and salt, as well as the health and academic institutions in Qatar to intensify efforts to reduce the ratio of people suffering from high blood pressure, referring to cooperation with World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) to develop standardized educational materials that will be circulated during the awareness week under the theme “5 Ways to Reduce 5 Grams of Salt” to present 5 simple guidelines on different behaviors that help reduce salt consumption.
For her part, Chief of Nutrition Department in Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) Moudhi Al Hajri said that salt content is particularly high in canned foods, urging minimizing of consuming such foods and instead having more fresh foods.
She also urged the public to wash canned foods after disposal of liquids, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, gradually reduce the amount of salt added to the recipes, use of herbs and spices, garlic and citrus instead of salt to add flavor to the food.