Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business


Management & Enterprise

First Advisor

Maurice Murphy


More people die from cardiovascular disease than any other cause in Ireland (Department of Health, 2013). A direct correlation exists between high salt intake and high blood pressure and ensuing cardiovascular diseases (He and MacGregor, 2010). This thesis focuses on the use of social marketing to educate people on the dangers of high salt intake with the eventual aim of making recommendations to aid in the reduction of high blood pressure. In-depth interviews were conducted with twelve leading personnel from salt reduction and social marketing fields. All interviewees reached similar conclusions suggesting that salt reduction as a health issue needs to be tackled by a coherent, well-structured and well-thought out process involving social marketing, collaboration with the food industry and legislation.

This study revealed complete agreement on the dangers of a high salt diet. The use of differing labelling systems by the food industry creates inconsistency and confusion among consumers. This necessitates the creation of a uniform, mandatory labelling system such as the Traffic Light System which encourages familiarity and understanding of salt content. The Traffic Light System appears to be the most effective and understandable method of labelling which indicates if a product is high, moderate or low in salt through the use of green, amber and red signs which instantaneously inform the consumer of salt content. These should be placed on the front of the pack.

The findings of this study advocate collaboration with the food industry as it is estimated that about 75 to 80 per cent of total dietary salt intake comes from manufactured or processed foods (He and MacGregor, 2010). For this reason, it is essential to prioritise the reduction of salt from processed foods through reformulation which should be employed in an unobtrusive manner along with various other methods which include setting and auditing lower salt targets, developing a list of priority products for salt reduction and the use of salt replacers. Salt reduction must be done gradually and over a long period of time so that consumers do not notice any decline in taste.

With regard to the use of social marketing to change behaviour and reduce salt intake, the study found that social marketing is a strategy which must be used to raise awareness of the importance of the issue both at upstream level with the food industry and at downstream level with the consumer.

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