APH 2008, 66, 187-195:

Sodium intake in the Belgian population. Research limitations and policy implications

Vandevijvere S, Van Oyen H.

Keywords: sodium intake, food consumption survey, Belgium, food groups

Objective
To analyse the current sodium intake level in the Belgian adult population and to determine the most important foods contributing to the total sodium intake.

Design and setting
Information on food intake was collected using two non-consecutive 24-hour recalls. Habitual food intake was estimated by the Nusser method. Non-dietary variables were obtained using a face-to-face questionnaire.

Subjects
A representative sample of the Belgian population 15 years and older was randomly selected from the National Register using a multistage stratified procedure. This study only comprised adults 18 years and older (n=2439).

Results
The mean sodium intake of the Belgian population was 2.7 ±1.0 grams per day. Men ingested substantially more sodium than women (3.3 ±1.2 grams per day versus 2.3 ±0.9 grams per day). Men exceeded the upper limit of the recommended sodium intake of the World Health Organisation at the 10th percentile while women exceeded this limit at the 41st percentile.
Cereals, especially bread, contributed most to the total sodium intake. Meat products, sauces, soups and cheese also were important contributors.

Conclusion
Efficient sodium reduction measures are urgently needed in Belgium. Ideally sodium reduction should be organised at European level. Food producers, especially manufacturers of bread (products), meat products, sauces, soups and cheese, are strongly encouraged to take initiatives to reduce the sodium content of their foods. While reducing sodium content of foods, one must not forget to follow up iodine status of the population and consumer acceptance of sodium-reduced foods.