Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 16th 2014 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 16, 2014
People around the world eat twice as much salt
as they should, and this behaviour translates into
1.65 million heart-related deaths per year,
researchers said last Wednesday.
Excess salt can cause high blood pressure, which
is a leading factor in heart disease and stroke, according
to the study in the New England Journal of Medi-
Led by scientists at Harvard and Tufts University,
the study combined data from 205 surveys of sodium
intake in 66 countries around the world.
"These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in
ten of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide,"
said lead researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at
"These new findings inform the need for strong
policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States
and across the world."
The average level of global daily sodium intake in
2010 was 3.95 grams per day, nearly double the World
Health Organisation recommendation of two grammes
per day, the study found.
Although salt intake was higher than it should be
in all world regions, the numbers varied.
Regional averages ranged from 2.18 grammes per
day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51 grams per day in
Americans average daily salt intake was 3.6 grams.
The US government recommends limiting sodium to
no more than 2,300 mg (2.3g) per day.
"The majority of Americans have acquired a taste
for a sodium consumption by a high salt diet," said
Kevin Marzo, chief of cardiology at Winthrop-Uni-
versity Hospital in Mineola, New York, who was not
involved in the study.
"Health risks, particularly in its contribution to high
blood pressure, may occur with the total daily con-
sumption of more than a teaspoon of table salt."
More study needed
An accompanying editorial in the journal by doctor
Suzanne Oparil at the University of Alabama at Birm-
ingham urged caution in interpreting the results "given
the numerous assumptions necessitated by the lack
of high-quality data."
Other research published in the same issue of the
New England Journal of Medicine showed evidence
that both high and low levels of sodium were linked
to greater risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
That further complicates the question of whether
lower sodium diets might help or hurt public health,
"These provocative findings beg for a randomised,
controlled outcome trial to compare reduced sodium
intake with usual diet," Oparil wrote.
"In the absence of such a trial, the results argue
against reduction of dietary sodium as an isolated
public health recommendation," said Oparil.
The Institute of Medicine has convened experts to
weigh in on the matter, and they reported last year
that most evidence shows high sodium boosts the
risk of heart disease.
However, the IOM also said there is not enough
research to say for sure that lowering sodium to the
recommended intake range of 1.5-2.3 grams per day
would lower the risk of heart disease in the general
Still, it probably wouldn t hurt for most people to
try and cut down on sodium, said David Friedman,
chief of heart failure services at North Shore-LIJ s
Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, New York.
Too much salt linked to
Nearly 50 per cent of daily sodium intake comes from consumption of bread,
processed meats, pizza, soups, sandwiches, snacks and cheese, according to a
top physician at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"Based on the available data, reducing our collective
sodium intake to the daily range between 1,500 to
2,000 milligrammes per day is probably the sweet
spot for just enough but not too much oral sodium
intake in most adults with known heart disease or
those who are trying to prevent further personal car-
diovascular trouble," said Friedman, who was not
involved in the study.
Valentin Fuster, physician-in-chief of The Mount
Sinai Hospital in New York, said eliminating processed
foods is a good way to improve health. (AFP)
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