Today’s average sodium intake is several times what the body requires and its long-term effect on our health is very serious. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects one in three U.S. adults – nearly 75 million people aged 20 or older. An additional 50 million adults suffer from pre-hypertension. High blood pressure can increase the risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and kidney failure. Too much sodium in the daily diet is a major contributor to high blood pressure.
A new report from the Institute of Medicine this week concludes that national action is imperative to reduce the sodium content of foods if we are to make significant progress toward reducing the risk of hypertension and major cardiovascular events for Americans.
A story in today’s Washington Post leaves a mistaken impression that the FDA has begun the process of regulating the amount of sodium in foods. The FDA is not currently working on regulations nor has it made a decision to regulate sodium content in foods at this time.
Over the coming weeks, the FDA will more thoroughly review the recommendations of the IOM report and build plans for how the FDA can continue to work with other federal agencies, public health and consumer groups, and the food industry to support the reduction of sodium levels in the food supply. The Department of Health and Human Services will be establishing an interagency working group on sodium at the Department that will review options and next steps
Success in reducing sodium intake will require coordinated national action, with participation of all. We are encouraged by the fact that some food manufacturers have already begun or announced their commitment to reduce sodium levels in their products.
As a consumer, you can start lowering your sodium intake today by purchasing foods low in sodium, asking your grocer to carry more low-sodium products, and asking for low-sodium options at restaurants.
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