Sodium intake reduction efforts in Lebanon
Sodium intake reduction efforts in Lebanon are quite recent and have just started to take effect on the national level. Starting out from an academic institution, the Lebanese Action on Sodium and Health (LASH) campaign was established to counter the increasing prevalence of hypertension and associated adverse health effects. The campaign’s strategy was based on four pillars: research, health communication, advocacy, and monitoring. The LASH group set out with determining: baseline sodium intake of the population, main sources of sodium intake, and the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (KAB) of the population as a situation analysis that prompts for action. This gave LASH tangible evidence of the magnitude of the problem and the need for the government, the food industry, and the consumers, to be mobilized to take part in devising a solution. Currently, Lebanon is at a stage of technically working to reduce the sodium content in the major sources of sodium, namely local bread and bread-like products. The next steps will include implementation of a plan for monitoring industry compliance, while studying other food targets, including dairy products and processed meat. Meanwhile, the health communication plan is ongoing and the Salt Awareness Week is celebrated every year with media appearances of LASH researchers to raise the issue to the public eye.