Drop the Salt! Assessing the impact of a public health advocacy strategy on Australian government policy on salt

27 November 2019

Objective: In 2007 the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) launched a campaign to encourage the Australian government to take action to reduce population salt intake. The objective of the present research was to assess the impact of the Drop the Salt! campaign on government policy. Design: A review of government activities related to salt reduction was conducted and an advocacy strategy implemented to increase government action on salt. Advocacy actions were documented and the resulting outcomes identified. An analysis of stakeholder views on the effectiveness of the advocacy strategy was also undertaken. Settings: Advocacy activities were coordinated through AWASH at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney. Subjects: All relevant State and Federal government statements and actions were reviewed and thirteen stakeholders with known interests or responsibilities regarding dietary salt, including food industry, government and health organisations, were interviewed. Results: analysis affirmed that AWASH influenced the government's agenda on salt reduction and four key outputs were attributed to the campaign: (i) the Food Regulation Standing Committee discussions on salt, (ii) the Food and Health Dialogue salt targets, (iii) National Health and Medical Research Council partnership funding and (iv) the New South Wales Premier's Forum on Fast Foods. Conclusions: While it is not possible to definitively attribute changes in government policy to one organisation, stakeholder research indicated that the AWASH campaign increased the priority of salt reduction on the government's agenda. However, a coordinated government strategy on salt reduction is still required to ensure that the potential health benefits are fully realised.