Evaluation of Dietary Salt Intake among Healthy Students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Ali Al Khathaami, Roaa Amer, Sara Qubaiban, Azhar Aljuaid, Bashayer Alanazi, Alaa Althubaiti


Background: High-salt intake is a major contributing risk factor for many chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) especially cardiovascular diseases. World Health Organization (WHO) recommended maximum salt intake of 5 g\day (equivalent to 2g/day of sodium) for adults. We therefore aimed to evaluate the mean salt intake by healthy individuals at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) and compare the levels to the WHO recommended salt intake guidelines.
Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive study used a validated electronic food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to collect data to approximate the daily dietary salt intake of 3522 healthy undergraduate individuals in KSAU-HS, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2016. Data were analyzed by the SPSS version 24.0. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the data. Continuous variables were delivered as the mean and standard deviation. Categorical variables were shown as frequencies and percentages. A T-test was used to assess the relationship between the food categories and consumption by gender. A p-value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: The mean age of the participants was 20.99 years with a Response rate of 9%. The study demonstrated that 97.8% of all participants had a total mean salt intake of 6.76 g/day, thus exceeding the WHO recommended daily salt intake. Females had a somewhat higher intake of salt while males showed higher consumption of fruits and vegetables. Most frequently consumed food categories in order are prepared meals, bakery products and cereals, and cheese and dairy products. The rate of the prepared meal utilization was 35.44%; with non-veg dishes having significant overall contribution with a p-value of 0.024
Conclusion: The amount of dietary salt intake among healthy Saudi individuals in KSAU-HS exceeds the WHO recommended daily value, which is alarming. Hence, this study highlighted the necessity of monitoring and decreasing individuals’ daily salt intake through further researches, which in turn will assist in reducing an important risk factor of common NCDs within the Saudi community.


Salt intake, WHO, cardiovascular diseases, KSAU-HS, students, Saudi Arabia

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