World Salt Awareness Week 2018: Health Effects of Salt [transcript][audio]

Guest: Susie Burrell

Presenter: Tabetha Moreto

Guest Bio: Susie Burrell is one of Australia’s leading dietitians, with 2 Honours degrees in Nutrition & Dietetics and Psychology. Susie is especially known for her practical, easy to understand approach to diet, nutrition and wellbeing. Early in her career, she spent almost 10 years working at The Children’s Hospital and with elite sporting teams including the St George Illawarra Dragons and the South African Blue Bulls where she gained much applied experience working with children, families and elite athletes. Susie is currently the resident sports dietitian at Sydney University Sport. Susie is currently the resident dietitian on Channel’s 7’s SUNRISE and has a weekly radio segment on the top rating 2GB Afternoon Program with Chris Smith. Susie currently contributes regularly to, Australian Women’s Fitness, CLEO and Woman’s Day magazines and she is the consultant dietitian at Sydney University Sport, Bellamy’s Organic, Zip Water and Australian Bananas.

Segment Overview: In today’s interview, Susie Burrell comes back to the program to promote the upcoming World Salt Awareness Week 2018. She explains how Australians are consuming too much salt in their diet and what people can do in order to reduce salt intake and have a much healthier diet. Shape Me 


Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Susie Burrell, one of Australia’s leading dietitians. She is known for her practical, easy-to-understand approach to diet, nutrition and well-being. Today we’re going to talk about World Salt Awareness Week 2018 and also what can we do to limit our salt intake and eat more healthy. This is her second appearance on the show. Without further ado, welcome back to the show Susie. It’s very nice to have you here.

Susie Burrell: Thanks so much for having me.

T: My pleasure. Susie please tell the audience more about yourself and the nature of your work.

S: Sure. I’m a dietitian by trade and I studied nutrition and psychology almost 20 years ago. Initially, I spent time working at the Children’s Hospital and spent time specifically working in the area of childhood obesity. And in particular adjusting diet based on macronutrient profile to get weight loss results and that led to an interest in insulin resistance and polycystic ovaries, ovarian syndrome I should say. Simultaneously I had always written and worked in the media and so following that I now work on the television show, Sunrise. I have a call on online on and I still see clients in private practice primarily for weight loss. It’s led me to here which is a general interest in weight control and health and commentating on that in the media.

T: Sounds like a very interesting background. Tell us more about World Salt Awareness Week. Why is this event very special?

S: It’s a big deal particularly in Australia because basically we eat far too much salt. It’s estimated that Australians on average are having about 8 grams of salt per day or over 3,000 milligrams of sodium which is far more than the recommended upper daily limit of 5 grams or about 2,000 milligrams. It’s really about raising Australia’s awareness of where salt can be slipping into their diets and simple practical ways to reduce our salt intake every day because we know there’s benefits for heart health and longevity long term.

T: Wow, this sounds like a very interesting event. That’s true, not just Australians, many people around the world eat too much salt nowadays.

S: Absolutely, and it’s got to do of course with the amount of processed food we consume. If we less often are eating at home where we have complete control over what’s going into our diet. We’re picking up food on the go and we’re using meal delivery services and unfortunately a lot of the cuisines that we’re seeking out whether it’s Italian or Indian, Asian cuisines or even just our fast food chains – it’s packed full of salt. Sometimes the meal deals or meals for particular places can have more than your upper daily recommended intake of salt. Modern life is somewhat to blame and hence it comes down to awareness and making better choices each and every day to gradually reduce our intake.

T: Yes that’s true and I agree with you. I have to admit I’m one of those people that eats food out on the go. I eat lots of fast food because of my lifestyle. I’m too busy to cook sometimes but it looks like that I’m probably doing some damage to my health, unfortunately. Susie, can you tell us what can we do to lower our salt intake?

S: First of all being aware of where salt is found so in particular processed foods and fast-food, Asian cuisines, and even everyday foods like noodles and soups and sauces. Getting an idea of actually how much you’re consuming. So doing a quick scan of the labels and ideally we’re looking for less than 400 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams on food labels. Having a good reference point, specifically it can be things like choosing salt reduced versions of things like tomato paste, tomato sauce, soy sauce, things that are really packed full of salt. You can also get salt reduced versions of processed meat and in foods like bread and even our wraps. To be aware that some of those products can contain two or three times the amount of soluble sodium than others do. If you’re looking at brands for example, the Helga’s Wrap brand in particular has reasonably low levels of salt for a wrap. With day to day foods that we’re consuming regularly, making sure we’re choosing lower salt versions of those. That’s a big difference to our overall intake.

T: Yes and I agree with you on that. How can we lower our salt intake with healthier but still tasty alternatives because especially children nowadays they eat too much sweet and salt and they complain that healthy food doesn’t taste good. How can you encourage people especially children to eat healthier?

S: The first thing is to make healthy food appealing without the use of high salt food. Try not to add salt to any of the main product and each and every day choosing lower salt varieties of staples like our wraps or our processed meat. Being aware that whenever you’ve had a lot of fast food it’s really about limiting those choices because if kids get used to having them multiple times a week, they’re going to seek more of those foods as opposed to having it as a special occasion once every couple of weeks. So then they don’t get used to having it as often and we know from research in terms of brain function that the more of these stimulus whether it’s salt or sugar or fat, the brain has the more that it wants. We become desensitized to it. The goal is to keep it minimum in the first place and don’t have it too often. Particular Asian cuisines and fast food meal deals. The less of those we can have in the diet, the better.

T: I absolutely agree with you. I can relate to that because as a mother myself, I have a little girl who’s always looking for a happy meal from McDonald’s so I have to try my best in order for her to eat more healthy.

S: Absolutely and treat to treat. It’s not an everyday thing, it’s not even a once a week thing. It’s about really limiting. Ultimately, it’s about food manufacturers also making lower sodium varieties so that when we do we don’t feel like a burger or fries naturally it’s got less in it than it once did because they’re gradually reducing the overall amount in their foods as well.

T: Yes. That’s a good thing to know that food manufacturers are understanding about this particular issue.

S: The more they can do, they’ve got a huge amount of control over the food supply. Doing a big picture, people we want to get to be promoting lower salt varieties of key products but for us daily it’s about not adding salt with the salt shaker at home, seasoning with other alternatives like herbs and spices, things like chili sauce that don’t have the actual sodium in it. Then it’s about looking for lower salt varieties of our favorite things whether it’s soy sauce or stocks, soups, things that we’re consuming more regularly looking always for the lower sodium varieties of those products.

T: Fantastic. Now Susie if you don’t mind can I ask you a personal question?

S: Sure..

T: Why are you so passionate about this particular topic? Why are you so passionate about getting people to eat healthy?

S: I think the food is the platform to our health and well-being. If you’re not eating well on a daily basis, how can you be expected to perform, feel and look at your best. What I find is that people are often not feeling their best or they’re carrying a few kilos and they’re looking for outside reasons why that might be and they’re looking for answers and different options to improve how they’re feeling when really they just need to focus on their diet and getting a strong diet platform. And the average person I don’t think has that. They’re in a rush, they’re eating for up day to day, there’s not a lot of planning, they’re not getting their babies the right nutrients. They’re not getting enough fresh food, they don’t even know how to put together quick and easy meals and they’re reverting more and more to processed foods. Different foods that are not giving their nutrition to be at their best. It’s about as a human being what can you do to look, feel and perform at your best? Targeting your diet and developing a strong dietary platform is the easiest thing you can do and not enough of us has spent time on developing that strong platform.

T: That’s excellent. Thank you for sharing that with us. I really appreciate it.

S: You’re welcome.

T: Before we go can you tell us for those who want to participate in the upcoming World Salt Awareness Week, how can they do that?

S: Simply being aware there’s a lot of resources out there online. You can download to know the salt amount of different kinds of food. You could visit my blog at and we’ve got specific blogs written on easy swaps in your diet to reduce your salt intake and easy ways to reduce your overall intake every single day. There’s a lot of resources around, a quick search of World Salt Awareness Week or my website will take you to some fantastic resources.

T: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. It was fantastic having you again.

S: Thank you so much, anytime.

T: That was Susie Burrell. We’ve just been talking about World Salt Awareness Week and how we can eat healthier by limiting our salt intake. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at We’re on all social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing to our HPR YouTube channel. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.