Bloomberg News

Almost All Americans Eat Too Much Salt, CDC Report Says

November 02, 2011

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Almost all U.S. citizens, including children, exceed the dietary guidelines for salt, putting them at risk for hypertension and heart disease, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About half of Americans -- those with high blood pressure or other risk factors -- should consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium, and 99 percent of these people don’t, according to a report from the Atlanta-based CDC in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The other 52 percent should consume less than 2,300 mg, the recommended daily limit, and 88 percent exceeded that.

Table salt is about 40 percent sodium, which is known to raise blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,800 mg of sodium, or more than the recommended amount for half the population. About 75 percent of sodium is added to commercial foods during processing or in restaurant preparation, the authors wrote.

“Because usual sodium intake for nearly all U.S. residents exceeds 2010 dietary guidelines, increased efforts involving the public and private sectors -- voluntary reductions in processed and restaurant food -- will be needed,” the authors wrote.

The data was obtained using a survey of the U.S.’s non- institutionalized population from 2005 through 2008. About 18,823 people over the age of two were interviewed and examined. The scientists measured the blood pressure of participants, tested blood and urine, and asked what they ate in the last 24 hours. Three to 10 days later, they were again asked what they ate that day.

After certain exclusions, researchers analyzed a sample of 9,468 participants, including 5,188 patients age 2 to 17 and 4,280 age 18 and older.

People with the lowered recommended intake were mostly over 51 years old, black or had high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, the report said.

--Editors: Chris Staiti, Angela Zimm

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Lopatto in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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