Parents’ Perceptions about Salt Consumption in Urban Areas of Peru: Formative Research for a Social Marketing Strategy
Salt intakes in Latin America currently double the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 5 g/day. Various strategies to reduce the population’s salt consumption, such as raising awareness using social marketing, have been recommended. This study identified parents’ perceptions of salt consumption to inform a social marketing strategy focused on urban areas in Peru.
Using a sequential exploratory methods design, parents of pre-school children, of high and low socioeconomic status, provided qualitative data in the form of interviews and focus groups. Following this, quantitative data was obtained via questionnaires, which were sent to all parents. The information was analyzed jointly.
296 people (mean age 35.4, 82% women) participated, 64 in the qualitative and 232 in the quantitative phase of the study. Qualitative data from the first phase revealed that the majority of mothers were in charge of cooking, and female participants expressed that cooking was “their duty” as housewives. The qualitative phase also revealed that despite the majority of the participants considered their salt intake as adequate, half of them mentioned that they have tried to reduce salt consumption, and the change in the flavor of the food was stated as the most difficult challenge to continue with such practice. Quantitative data showed that 67% of participants would be willing to reduce their salt intake, and 79.7% recognized that high salt intake causes hypertension. In total, 84% of participants reaffirmed that mothers were in charge of cooking. There were no salient differences in terms of responses provided by participants from high versus low socioeconomic groups.
The results point towards the identification of women as a potential target-audience of a social marketing strategy to promote reductions in salt intake in their families and, therefore, a gender-responsive social marketing intervention is recommended.