By John M. Clymer
The FDA has issued guidelines to gradually reduce dietary sodium, a cause of hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease. The guidance is intended to “Support and extend [the food] industry’s voluntary efforts to reduce sodium across the range of commercially processed, packaged, and prepared foods.”
“Doctors are unanimous: less sodium means less hypertension and less heart disease,” Hallie Jackson reported this morning on Today.
Keith C. Ferdinand, past chair of the National Forum, applauded the news: “The move by the FDA is a great leap forward. In public health, we believe in prevention.” Dr. Ferdinand is the Gerald S. Berenson Chair in Preventive Cardiology at Tulane University School of Medicine.
The National Forum is a longtime advocate for reducing dietary sodium consumption, both independently and as part of the National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) led by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Getting salt consumption down to healthy levels is a major goal of the Public Health Action Plan to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke, spearheaded by the National Forum.
Excess dietary sodium, better known as salt, is a proven cause of high blood pressure (hypertension) which is a cause of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease and failure. Nearly half of U.S. adults, 116 million, have hypertension, according to the CDC. The CDC estimates that 80% of strokes could be prevented. Decreasing salt intake will help.
Importantly, the FDA issued guidelines, not regulations. The agency aims to help Americans squeeze excess salt from their diets through voluntary reductions in sodium by food manufacturers. In addition, FDA intends for the guidelines to help inform consumers’ choices. The American Heart Association aids consumers with information such as identifying six common foods that are major sources of sodium.
People need to consume a healthy amount of sodium, better known as salt. The problem is that most Americans get too much salt. Current adult dietary recommendations are to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. According to the FDA, average daily sodium consumption is 3,400 mg/day. The new FDA guidelines identify 3,000 mg/day as a short-term target.