Group Wants FDA to Cut Salt in Foods
Too Much Sodium Linked to High Blood Pressure, Experts Say
WebMD News Archive
Cutting Sodium Levels continued...
Much of that research has been done since the agency last considered salt
levels in food.
Lawrence Appel, MD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns
Hopkins Medical Institutions, said three studies since 2001 have linked cutting
dietary sodium to a reduction in cardiovascular events like heart
The latest, published last April in BMJ, showed that adults who cut
their dietary sodium levels reduced their changes of a heart attack or stroke
"This is truly a public health epidemic," Appel said of
Appel led an Institute of Medicine panel that in 2004 urged adults to limit
sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day, the amount present in one teaspoon
of table salt. But most sodium intake is from processed foods.
Voluntary Cuts in Sodium
Representatives of the food industry said companies have succeeded in
voluntarily cutting unnecessary sodium out of their products. They warned that
consumers were driven away from products when companies previously experimented
with quickly removing salt.
"Improvement in the health of Americans is best achieved through
education to modify behaviors ... rather than single policies on individual
ingredients," said Robert Earl, senior director of nutrition policy for the
Grocery Manufacturers Association -- Food Products Association.
Jacobson said that industry efforts to cut sodium have occurred but that
they have been too gradual. The CSPI tracked 71 grocery store products and
found that they dropped about 0.5% per year between 1984 and 2004. At that
rate, Jacobson said it would take 100 years to cut average sodium intake by
Several government and private groups, including the American Medical
Association, have recommended such a cut take place over the next decade.
"I don't think we have that long to wait," Jacobson said.