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Knowledge gap

The Southern Asian community in the UK needs more information about the risks associated with high salt intake in their diet

 The Southern Asian community in the UK do not have enough knowledge of the link between salt intake and high blood pressure and stroke, according to results from a survey conducted by the Stroke Association and the Food Standards Agency.

Strokes are more prevalent within the South Asian community than in the general populous because its members are more prone to diabetes and high blood pressure. Yet just 5 per cent of the 309 respondents polled in the survey believe that it is a primary health concern and just 6 per cent knew that salt intake should be limited to 6g per day.

High levels of salt can significantly increase the incidence of stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes; however, the Southern Asian community say that salt is an important part of their diet and is used a lot in traditional dishes.

Some 75 per cent of those surveyed agreed that most food tastes better with added salt. However, 52 per cent think that using salt substitutes, such as `low-salt' is a good idea. As traditional dishes are likely to be made almost entirely from fresh produce, the community is well positioned to more strictly regulate salt intake, if they are made more aware of the dangers associated with salt.

The Stroke Association is keen to raise awareness among the Southern Asian community of the risks of high salt intake in their diet.

As part of the initiative, leaflets on prevention of stroke will be distributed from the charity's regional offices by family support officers who work within South Asian communities every day. The leaflets have been translated into five languages, Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati to aid communication with the older generation within the community.

Posters advising patients on stroke prevention will be distributed to as many GP surgeries as possible, as part of the campaign.

The Stroke Association will also have a presence at the National Mela, a showcase of modern British Asian art, culture, fashion and food being held at Birmingham's NEC from November 17-19. The charity will appear alongside other associations, such as the British Heart Foundation.

In the 1990s, the premature death rate from stroke in South Asian men was 55 per cent higher than the average male in the UK; in women this figure was 41 per cent.

The Asian community in the UK is also 50 per cent more likely to develop coronary heart disease than people of European origin. They are also more likely to develop Type II diabetes, with one in five suffering from the disease compared to 3 per cent of the general population.

2nd September 2008

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