Salt Intake At Risky Levels Worldwide
March 22, 2013

Global Sodium Intake Well Exceeds Recommended Guidelines

Alan McStravick for - Your Universe Online

A disturbing bit of news was reported Thursday at the American Heart Association´s (AHA) Nutritional, Physical Activity and Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2013 Scientific Sessions. Tracking average sodium consumption globally, it was determined that intake from commercially prepared foods, table salt, and salts and soy added during cooking amounted to nearly 4,000 milligrams per day. From this figure, researchers extrapolated that 75 percent of the world´s population consumes nearly twice the daily recommended amount of sodium.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends incorporating 2,000 milligrams or less per day, the AHAs guidelines are slightly more stringent, recommending individuals limit their sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams per day.

"This study is the first time that information about sodium intake by country, age and gender is available," said Saman Fahimi, MD, M.Phil, lead author and a visiting scientist in the Harvard School of Public Health's epidemiology department in Boston, Mass. "We hope our findings will influence national governments to develop public health interventions to lower sodium."

Excess sodium in a diet has been linked to elevated blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. And, according to experts, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death the world over.

The scientific report noted that among both men and women, average sodium intake exceeded levels considered healthy in almost every country on Earth. Among the highest sodium levels noted, Kazakhstanis ranked number one with an average sodium intake of 6,000 milligrams per day. Mauritius and Uzbekistan followed closely behind.

Kenya and Malawi almost met WHO guidelines for average daily sodium intake, coming in at 2,000 milligrams each day. The US, on the other hand, fell squarely in the middle with citizens consuming an average of 3,600 milligrams per day.

Of each of the 187 countries represented in the report, all exceeded the WHO guideline of less than 2,000 milligrams per day. The study is representative of 99 percent of the world´s population. Even more striking was that 119 of the 187 countries, representing a full 88 percent of the world´s population exceeded the WHO recommendation by more than 1,000 milligrams each day.

To arrive at their conclusion, researchers analyzed 247 surveys of adult sodium intake to estimate sodium intake, delineated by age, gender, region and nation. The surveys represent data collected between the years of 1990 and 2010 and were included in the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study (GBDS). The GBDS is an international collaborative study conducted by 488 scientists and researchers from 303 institutions in 50 countries around the world.

Funding for this report was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.