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CDC: 9 in 10 Americans consume too much salt

Three-quarters of sodium consumed by Americans comes from processed and restaurant-prepared foods, leaving people with few options to reduce their salt intake.
By Stephen Feller   |   Jan. 8, 2016 at 2:39 PM

ATLANTA, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Nearly all Americans consume far more salt than recommended, even without including salt added to food at the table, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new research found sodium consumption has remained largely the same during the last decade, and more than three-quarters of it is in processed and restaurant-prepared food. Many people, the report said, have no idea how much salt they eat.

In its new Dietary Guidelines, the federal government recommends Americans slash their sodium consumption from an average of 3,440 milligrams per day to 2,300 milligrams per day.

A 2015 CDC study showed how difficult it can be to regulate sodium intake, as more than half of nearly 4,000 packaged foods exceed the recommended per-serving quantity of sodium. The list of foods includes between 50 and 70 percent of cold cuts, sandwiches, pizza, and pasta- or meat-mixed food items sold in grocery stores.

"The finding that nine of ten adults and children still consume too much salt is alarming," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, in a press release. "The evidence is clear: too much sodium in our foods leads to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Reducing sodium in manufactured and restaurant foods will give consumers more choice and save lives."

In its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC analyzed data on 14,728 people over age 2 collected between 2009 and 2012 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The study showed 89 percent of adults over age 19 and 90 percent of children exceed recommendations for salt intake. Among adults with hypertension, 86 percent exceeded the recommendations. Among adults, 98 percent of men and 80 percent of women consume more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day and in children between the ages of 2 and 18, between 92 and 94 percent consume too much sodium.

More than three-quarters of sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant food, leaving them few options. A major strategy for lowering national sodium consumption is to reduce its presence in the food supply, and some companies are voluntarily reducing salt in their products, the CDC said.

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