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FDA recommends reducing sodium intake

June 2, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants Americans to pass on the salt shaker—and pass on the processed foods.

The FDA has issued draft guidance for public comment on voluntary sodium reduction. The problem is that the majority of sodium intake comes from processed and prepared foods, not the salt shaker.

“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” says U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a press release. “[Wednesday’s] announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.”

Half of every food dollar goes to food consumed outside the home, according to the United State Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. As a result, the FDA’s guidance targets food manufacturers, restaurants and food service operations. The FDA’s draft guidance proposes feasible reductions across a broad range of food categories with moderate to high amounts of sodium.

Americans consume on average about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, almost 50 percent more than what most experts recommend. The FDA’s goal is to reduce American sodium intake to about 3,000 milligrams per day in two years and 2,300 milligrams in 10 years.

One in three Americans has high blood pressure, which has been linked to diets high in sodium and is a major risk factor cause of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that lowering Americans’ sodium intake by about 40 percent over the next decade could save 500,000 lives and nearly $100 billion in healthcare costs.

Read the draft guidance here.

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