Advocacy Group Calls for 50% Salt Reduction in Processed Foods To Improve Public Health
The American Public Health Association on Tuesday recommended a 50% reduction in the amount of salt in processed and restaurant foods over the next 10 years, the Contra Costa Times reports. The reduction could save about 150,000 lives per year from illness related to hypertension, such as strokes and heart attacks, according to Dr. Stephen Havas, lead author of the APHA recommendation. Havas said that salt in processed foods accounts for 75% of the sodium consumed by U.S. residents each day. The federal government recommends that individuals consume no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, but the average U.S. resident consumes about 4,000 milligrams per day, according to APHA. Havas said that a 50% decrease in the amount of salt in processed foods could reduce salt consumption for the average individual by about 1,500 milligrams per day. "The excess sodium in these foods is unnecessary and leads to a large, preventable toll of hypertension, premature death and disability," he added. APHA officials said that they plan to work with food producers to meet the salt reduction recommendation. However, Alison Kretser, director of nutrition policy for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, questioned the APHA recommendation and said that the association should have a "broader focus." She said, for example, that a diet high in fruits, vegetables and dairy products can help prevent hypertension. "My concern is that just reducing the sodium levels in diets becomes very unpalatable. People may potentially feel discouraged and deprived," she added (Uhlman, Contra Costa Times, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.