MEXICO CITY - Salt and lime with tequila. Salt with your iced "michelada" beer. Salt and chili on fruit and even candy. Mexicans love salt, so much so that some estimates show them eating nearly three times the recommended amount.

Add this to rising obesity and a hypertension epidemic, and you have a potential health nightmare that has spurred Mexico's massive capital city to try to get residents to shun the salt shaker.

Mexico City Health Secretary Armando Ahued launched a campaign, "Less Salt, More Health," to get restaurants to take salt shakers off their tables.

Officials and the city's restaurant chamber signed an agreement to encourage eateries to provide shakers only if guests ask for them. The program is voluntary.

While the battle may appear uphill, Mexico City's top health official says it is worthwhile since excess salt consumption is believed to raise blood pressure and cause hypertension. Two-thirds of Mexican adults are overweight or obese, and diabetes and hypertension are reaching epidemic proportions.

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