Sodium Content and Labelling of Packaged Foods and Beverages in Nigeria: A Cross-Sectional Study

Adedayo E. Ojo, Alexandra Jones, Clementina Ebere Okoro, Vanessa O. Alfa, Rosemary Okoli, Gabriel L. Shedul, Ikechukwu A. Orji, Samuel Osagie, Aashima Chopra, Linda V. Van Horn, Lisa R. Hirschhorn, Kathy Trieu, Fraser Taylor, Kylie Howes, Maliha Ilias, Makeda J. Williams, Veronica Tutse-Tonwe, Bruce Neal, Mark D. Huffman, Dike B. Ojji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increased consumption of unhealthy processed foods, particularly those high in sodium, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. The nutrition information on packaged foods can help guide consumers toward products with less sodium and support government actions to improve the healthiness of the food supply. The aims of this study were to estimate the proportion of packaged foods displaying nutrition information for sodium and other nutrients specified by Nigerian nutrition labelling regulations and to determine the amount of sodium in packaged foods sold in Nigeria using data from the nutritional information panel. Data were collected from November 2020 to March 2021 from in-store surveys conducted in supermarkets in three states. A total of 7039 products were collected. Overall, 91.5% (n = 6439) provided only partial nutrition information, 7.0% (n = 495) provided no nutritional information, and only 1.5% (n = 105) displayed a nutrient declaration that included all nutrients specified by 2019 Nigerian regulations. Some form of sodium content information was displayed for 86% of all products (n = 6032), of which around 45% (n = 2689) expressed this as ‘salt’ and 59% (n = 3559) expressed this as ‘sodium’, while a small number of food products had both ‘salt’ and ‘sodium’ content (3.6%). Provision of sodium or salt information on the label varied between food categories, ranging from 50% (vitamins and supplements, n = 2/4) to 96% (convenience foods, n = 44/46). Food categories with the highest median sodium content were ‘meat and meat alternatives’ (904 mg/100 g), ‘sauces, dressings, spreads, and dips’ (560 mg/100 g), and ‘snack foods’ (536 mg/100 g), although wide variation was often observed within categories. These findings highlight considerable potential to improve the availability and consistency of nutrition information on packaged products in Nigeria and to introduce further policies to reduce the amount of sodium in the Nigerian food supply.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalNutrients
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Nigeria
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • hypertension
  • nutritional labelling
  • packaged foods
  • salt
  • sodium

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