We’re less than convinced around here concerning this war on salt. Levels in the bloodstream – the only thing that’s important – are self-regulated in humans. Anyone with a functioning pair of kidneys has very little correlation between salt in diet and levels of salt that remains in the body – the excess is excreted.
We’re also pretty keen on this liberty thing around here, if people prefer to die having eaten food that tastes of something then well done to them, their life, their death, who are we to intervene? The answer often given is that salt consumption costs the NHS money, we all pay for the NHS and therefore there’s a societal right to intervention. This is not so:
Every 1g reduction in people’s average salt intake has been estimated to prevent 7,000 deaths a year from strokes and heart attacks – and save the NHS £1.5bn.
The thing is, in a health care system which provides life long cover people dying young saves that system cash. Because people don’t survive to require further health care treatment obviously enough. Someone keeling over from a stroke or heart attack at 75 does require that decade of Alzheimer’s care from the age of 80.
Someone who is the head of the NHS, someone responsible for spending £120 billion or so of our money, really should understand this following point. Fatties, boozers and gaspers save the NHS money, not cost it.
In more detail:
The researchers found that from age 20 to 56, obese people racked up the most expensive health costs. But because both the smokers and the obese people died sooner than the healthy group, it cost less to treat them in the long run.
On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years and obese people lived about 80 years. Smokers and obese people tended to have more heart disease than the healthy people.
Cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes. Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on.
The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.
It’s still entirely possible that there could be reasons to limit salt intake. But saving money in the NHS simply isn’t one of them, quite the opposite is true. It’s something of a puzzle that so much public policy is based upon such a misunderstanding of reality. Perhaps these people really do think we should all be eating tasteless mush instead of enjoying life?