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Americans Still Reaching for the Salt Shaker

Study Shows No Reduction in U.S. Salt Intake Over the Past 4 Decades

The ‘Set Point’ Idea

The new review supports the idea of the body having a ''set point'' for sodium, says McCarron. "Your salt intake is a value that is really set by the body and physiology," he tells WebMD.

While most people's sodium intake fluctuates -- one day a high-sodium restaurant meal, the next day more salads and fruits -- it evens out, he says.

The study, he says, suggests the high salt intake found in the U.S. population can't be the fault of the food industry, which has been working to reduce salt content.

Salt intake, he says, "is a physiologically set number."

However, he says, "That doesn’t say that certain people shouldn't work very closely to achieve a lower salt intake. Number one would be [those with] cardiovascular disease, with hypertension. Not all with high blood pressure are salt sensitive. It would [also] include some patients with kidney disease."

But he disagrees with across-the-board recommendations to lower salt. "These blanket recommendations are not safe," he says.

Industry Perspective

Morton Satin, vice president of scientific research for the Salt Institute in Alexandria, Va., reviewed the report for WebMD.

In a blog he wrote in response to the study on his web site, he writes that "the sodium-hypertension link is not what it was quacked up to be!"

For most of the population, he tells WebMD, ''from a health point of view, there's no justification for cutting back on salt."

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