September 14, 2009

Dropping salt intake can save $18 billion

Americans eat too much salt, but if their intake of sodium dropped to the recommended amount some $18 billion annually could be saved, U.S. researchers say.

Kartika Palar of the Rand Corp. estimates that if national sodium guidelines could be met 11 million cases of high blood pressure would be eliminated and their lives extended.

In addition, the study, published in the Journal of Health Promotion, says the monetary value of the improved quality of life would be an estimated $32 billion annually.

This study provides an important first step toward quantifying the benefits of reducing the intake of sodium by the American public, Palar, a graduate fellow at the Rand Pardee Graduate School, says in a statement. These findings make a strong case that there's value in pursuing a population-based approach to reducing sodium intake among Americans.

Excessive consumption of sodium is causing increased rates of high blood pressure and related illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases in the United States, Palar says.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, with lower amounts recommended for those at higher risk -- older adults, African-American patients and those with high blood pressure.