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Study: Sodium Levels in Americans Virtually Unchanged Since 1957

Friday, October 29, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

Despite the commonly held belief that sodium consumption has skyrocketed in the last 20 years and the decades of public education efforts warning Americans about adverse health risks associated with consuming high sodium diets, levels have remained virtually unchanged since 1957 according to a new study by Harvard University.

Thirty-eight 24-hour urine sodium excretion studies, published between 1957 and 2003, were analyzed by a multivariate random-effects model.  Sodium excretions were found to be unchanged throughout the study years.  In the last 50 years, Americans were found to consistently consume 3526 mg of sodium per day.  Researchers did note that sodium levels exceeded the recommended sodium intake levels of 2,300 mg/day for adults and 1,500 mg/day for those who are at risk or have high blood pressure. 

These results were similar to international sodium intake findings as highlighted in the editorial “Science Trumps Politics: Urinary Sodium Data Challenge U.S. Dietary Sodium Guideline,” accompanying the Harvard study in the November issue American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  David McCarron, one of the editorial authors, analyzed urinary sodium excretion data from 19,000 people taken from 1984-2008 from 38 different countries.  “The current report extends our observations by documenting that, likewise, all the efforts in the United States over the past three decades have had no effect on the population’s sodium intake,” McCarron stated.

McCarron suggests sodium “is not a readily modifiable nutritional parameter for the population at large.  Furthermore, a substantial body of research in humans provides evidence as to why this latest attempt to modify the general population’s sodium intake is doomed to failure.”

Earlier this year, two Institute of Medicine reports outlined strategies of reducing sodium intake in Americans.  In June, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended in their technical report to the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that sodium levels for American adults be lowered to from 2,300 to 1,500 mg/day.

To view the study, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/63864

To view the editorial, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/63866

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