CASH Comment - American Heart Association
14 February 2013
Less sodium in the U.S. diet could save 280,000 to 500,000 lives over 10 years, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary, University of London, and Chairman of CASH:
Salt reduction has long shown to be one of the most effective ways of lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing the risk of deaths from strokes and heart disease. In the UK, NICE estimated that for every one gram reduction in salt intakes made, 6,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease would be prevented a year, saving the UK economy up to £1.5billion per year.
Over recent years the food industry has made considerable progress in reducing salt in everyday foods. As a result, salt intakes in the UK have fallen from 9.5g/day to 8.1g/day since 2004, saving over 8,500 lives a year – however this is still a long way off the 6g maximum recommended daily intake.
The US target of 1,500mg sodium equates to just under 4g salt, about half of the current average salt intake in the UK (8.1g) and less than the UK’s maximum recommended intake of 6g a day. The WHO recently recommended a maximum of 5g salt a day for adults, and less for children.
It is clear that the greater the reduction in salt intakes, the greater the effect will be on our health. These figures show that so many more lives could be saved and that we are taking too long to reduce average salt intake. Progress towards a lower-salt diet needs to be accelerated as a matter of urgency.
The targets can be achieved with a combination of reducing the excessive and unnecessary amounts of salt put into food by the food industry and by individuals taking measures to cut their salt intake.
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