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Salt tax? MOH takes steps to reduce Singaporeans’ salt intake

Singaporeans are consuming too much salt, Parliament heard, leading authorities to consider options for lowering our salt intake, including a tax on high-sodium products. 

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Singaporeans are consuming too much salt, Parliament heard on Wednesday (March 9), leading authorities to consider options for lowering our salt intake, including a tax on high-sodium products. 

At the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Health (MOH) Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu Mahzam said that on average, people in Singapore consumed over one and a half teaspoons of salt every day or 3,600 mg in 2018.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults consume only half a teaspoon, or less than 2,000 mg, of sodium, daily.

Ms Rahayu said that consuming too much sodium is associated with an increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), which could lead to higher risks of cardiovascular complications including heart attacks and strokes.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that in 2017, 21.9 per cent of Singapore residents had hypertension.

By 2020, this figure had risen to 31.7 per cent.

And for people between the ages of 18 to 74, the figure is even higher, because, between 2019 and 2020, over one in three was shown to have high blood pressure.

The Ministry of Health said on its website that this has led to steps from the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to endeavour to decrease the sodium intake of people in Singapore.

Since 2018, HPB has also been offering grant support to sauce manufacturers, particularly those supplying into the foodservice sector, to reformulate their products to meet reduced-sodium guidelines through the Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme,” MOH added.

Importantly, HPB is expanding its efforts to include added salt in food preparation, which contributes over half of the sodium intake in diets in Singapore at present.

HPB will launch a nationwide campaign to get Singaporeans to eat less salt, stepping up public education initiatives for raising awareness of the need to lessen dietary sodium and to cultivate the demand for healthier options.

MOH mentioned that among the further measures it will be studying is a tax on processed foods that are high in sodium. This has been implemented in a number of countries including Hungary, Mexico, Fiji, and Tonga. /TISG

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