Launch of a salt substitute to reduce blood pressure within the Peruvian population

This is one of the first pragmatic intervention studies in Latin American countries in introducing a salt substitute among the general population.


The aim of this proposal is to implement an intervention among the general population in order to substitute common salt with high sodium content, for a low sodium salt that is rich in potassium, thereby reducing the blood pressure of adults aged 18 or over in Tumbes.


The research study included an exploratory component, carried out in the city of Tumbes,using qualitative techniques such as focus groups and in-depth interviews and a taste-based sensory discrimination test. Within the first stage, the participants involved six communities selected at random, between 100 and 200 homes, representing a total of 2400 individual participants.The results of this exploratory phase made it possible to construct a marketing campaign to promote consumption of the salt substitute.

In the next stage, the salt substitute will be introduced gradually, on average every five months in each community. Emphasis will be placed on interaction with families, as well as with bakeries, local welfare kitchens, food vendors and restaurants.

The substitute will be delivered directly to each home, where all the participants will be invited to use the salt substitute in their meals. The first bag will be given to them free of charge whilst a charge of S/.0.50 Peruvian soles will be made for each subsequent bag.

An evaluation of the salt consumption will be carried out during the introduction and monitoring of the intervention in each household.


The results of the exploratory phase of the study have revealed a number of findings:

  1. The average salt consumption in the selected communities is approximately 10 grams a day, and most of the intake comes from salt added to meals.
  2. When using the salt substitute, the concentration at which individuals do not detect changes in flavor consists of 25% potassium chloride and 75% sodium chloride. This concentration will be used in the intervention.
  3. The marketing campaign will focus on education, given that a considerable percentage of people are unaware of the causes of high blood pressure, and that salt can be one of the major factors involved in this condition.

A baseline assessment of the intervention was initiated in April 2014, and the intervention itself will begin in August of this year.


Antonio Bernabé-Ortiz


Tumbes, Peru

Tumbes, Peru


National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).


2012 – 2017

Research team

Jaime Miranda, MD, MSc, PhD, FFPH, Antonio Bernabé-Ortiz, MD, MPH, Francisco Diez Canseco, BA, MPH, María Kathia Cárdenas, BSc, MSc(c), Vilarmina Ponce – Lucero, BA.

Contributors: Robert H. Gilman MD, Katherine A. Sacksteder BS, PhD, (Johns Hopkins University, Estados Unidos)