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NewsBites May 2013 Issue

Steady Salt Reduction Would Save Lives

Half a million lives could be saved over a 10-year period by steadily reducing salt intake by 4% a year, according to a new computer-modeling analysis. Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco, writing in the journal Hypertension, reported that even greater gains in public health could be achieved by immediate reductions in salt intake. But slashing consumption from the US’ current average of 3,600 milligrams of daily sodium to the recommended 2,200 milligrams—much less the 1,500-milligram limit for high-risk and older people—isn’t practical, they conceded. Even a slow, decade-long 40% drop to a 2,200-milligram average would be “a daunting task that will likely require multiple layers of intervention.” Such a target would be possible, however, researchers said, by cutting sodium in processed and commercially prepared foods in half—making it “optimistic but potentially achievable.” They pointed to successful sodium-reduction campaigns in the UK, which have cut intake 3% to 4% a year, and in Finland, where a 20-year effort has paid off with 20% to 30% lower sodium consumption.

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