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    Rosemary Stanton

    I agree with your argument, Jacqui, and wish the Australian government would do something about the high quantity of salt in the typical Australian diet.

    Some meaningful front-of-pack labelling would help. Marking products with a green, amber or red light for their sodium content would help shoppers. Sadly, in spite of a lot of talk about the need for better labelling, there has been no government action at this stage (the talk is continuing). In the meantime, some food companies have adopted a self-designed %Dietary Intake labelling scheme. It’s hopeless for many reasons, but especially for sodium where it uses a figure currently set as the upper limit of safety for sodium (2300 mg/day) and sets this out alongside other nutrients where the %DI represents the desirable Recommended Dietary Intake. (Other figures, such as the %DI for sugars and saturated fat are based on industry’s own estimations and surprise, surprise, these have been set at levels that make many products look better than they should and are way too high for the average overweight Australian adult and even worse for kids.)

    However, I suggest we stop talking about “the amount of salt a day that is suggested for good health”. There is no such thing because although we all need some sodium, we don’t actually need any salt as such. Sodium is present quite naturally in ample quantities in foods such as seafood, meat, dairy products, eggs and some vegetables. The quantities of sodium present naturally in a vegan diet may be lower than the body’s needs, but the average omnivorous Australian can easily meet the body’s sodium requirements without any added salt.

    I don’t think the public will ever get the message that it’s sodium not salt that we need until we start talking about sodium, with the explanation that 40% of salt is sodium.

    Dr Rosemary Stanton, nutritionist

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    Suddenly Fourty

    There are more serious things Aussies need to learn. One of them is the silliness of cracking down hard on loutish drunken behaviour on our city streets, lamenting teenage binge drinking, and showing indignation over preventable car crashes caused by drink driving yet hold sacred the outdated notion that drinking yourself silly at every opportunity epitomises uber-coolness and banal Aussiness.

    Smoking used to be the cool of the 1960’s. Today it is well on its way to becoming a social stigma. And we save billions of tax dollars that would have been spent caring for the lung cancer patients who smoked their way to trouble.

    If we can do that to smoking, we can do that to excessive drinking — and save tax dollars spent on scraping off all these bozos lying dead or catatonic on our city streets in the aftermath of every occassion made into an excuse to guzzle this legal drug.

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    This related article may also be of interest, suggesting that you can’t necessarily rely on restaurants to be accurate when giving calorie counts:

    The broader point being that introducing such public health measures is one thing; enforcing them is another..


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