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Review raises questions over benefits of cutting salt


5 Star


Review raises questions over benefits of cutting salt

Our Review Summary

This is a story about the information published in a recent Cochrane reviewing what has been shown to result from the reduction of dietary salt intake along with the opinions of several diverse thought leaders in the field about the review.  The review found that small reductions in salt intake by people with normal blood pressure, high blood pressure, or a diagnosis of heart failure reduced blood pressure but did not show a demonstrable difference in the risk of developing heart disease or dying prematurely.  The authors of the study indicated that the data available involved too few people and too small a reduction in salt intake to show heart health benefits. The guidelines mentioned and the experts in the field who were interviewed shared the point of view that excess salt was detrimental.


Why This Matters

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and it is therefore of interest to know what lifestyle changes are effective in reducing this risk.  Salt restriction is currently considered an important public health measure for reducing the burden of heart disease.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  Costs not in question in this context.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The news of this piece is that, not withstanding the recommendations of many guidelines and experts,  the recently published Cochrane review failed to demonstrate that a small reduction in dietary salt intake decreased the chance of developing heart disease or dying prematurely.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable in this story about reducing salt consumption.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story reported on the conclusion drawn in a Cochrane Review about the failure to demonstrate  health benefit resulting from reduction in dietary salt intake and then provided comments from several experts in the field to refute those conclusions.  The story included comments from the lead study author indicating that the data were were limited by the small sample sizes in the studies and because the reductions in salt may have been too small to make a difference.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


This story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Quotes from several independent sources were included as part of this story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention in this story about what is known about other means of reducing the risk of developing or dying of heart disease.  A brief mention – even one additional sentence – about the importance of smoking cessation, exercise, and other dietary changes would have provided perspective.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The availability of salt is not in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story reported on the results of a recently published Cochrane review.  It indicated that several guidelines included recommendations for reductions in salt intake and while the experts quoted were in agreement that reducing salt intake was beneficial, the results of this most recent review is that the data do not support this claim. Good context provided.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


This story does not appear to rely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 7 Satisfactory


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