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Americans are still consuming too much sodium

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a common pattern across U.S. citizens remains the desire for salty food. This applies to all ages, men and women, across ethnic groups, and even with those who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The findings are startling. Over 90 percent of children and around 89 percent of adults consume quantities of sodium above the daily recommended allowances. These figures were drawn from the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), which collated the dietary habits of 15,000 people across the U.S.

The recommended daily intake levels are described in ‘2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.’ This document limits the levels of sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day for people over the age of 14 (for those younger the levels are lower.)

The recommended daily quantities of sodium are assessed every five years and revised as necessary. The reason for this constant vigilance is due to the association between high sodium intake and high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with heart attacks and stroke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), reducing sodium intake lowers blood pressure in adults.

Where high levels of sodium are consumed the kidneys have difficulty in processing it. This leads to the body retaining water in order to dilute down the sodium. The consequence of this is a build-up of fluid surrounding cells and this increases the volume of blood in veins and arteries. To cope with this, the heart is required to pump harder since the pressure in the blood vessels is greater, causing high blood pressure.

Take note of the high amount of sodium (salt) in this food product marketed for Toddlers.

Take note of the high amount of sodium (salt) in this food product marketed for Toddlers.

Commenting on the new intake rates, CDC Director Tom Frieden stated: “The finding that nine of ten adults and children still consume too much salt is alarming. The evidence is clear: too much sodium in our foods leads to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Reducing sodium in manufactured and restaurant foods will give consumers more choice and save lives.”

The new research is published in the CDC bulletin Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), in an article titled “Prevalence of Excess Sodium Intake in the United States — NHANES, 2009–2012.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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