Panel Urges FDA To Regulate Salt In Food
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
NPR's Patti Neighmond has more.
PATTI NEIGHMOND: The report says there's been an explosion in the amount of salt in the American diet over the past 40 years. The average American consumes a teaspoon and a half of salt a day, says the report. That's double what they need, according to economist Mary Muth, who's on the panel.
NEIGHMOND: A lot of the salt is in mixed dishes, things like pizza and cheeseburgers, things that probably you would anticipate have high levels of sodium. But there are other foods people really don't even think about like breads and cereals.
NEIGHMOND: And salad dressings, cheese, condiments like mustard, relish and soy sauce, cookies and cakes, and even chicken, which salt is added to for flavor. These are all sort of hidden salts, says Muth.
NEIGHMOND: And we do know that over time, people are consuming more and more processed foods. They're consuming more and more foods from restaurants. Consumers have very little control over the amount of sodium that are in those foods. And as a consequence, they're consuming much higher levels than are recommended.
NEIGHMOND: FDA spokesperson Meghan Scott says nothing at this point is off the table.
BLOCK: We have not reached a decision to regulate sodium levels. But certainly with something that is as big a public health issue as sodium and high blood pressure, we plan to use any and all tools available.
NEIGHMOND: The institute's report says high blood pressure can begin to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease even in childhood. And once people reach their 50s, the risk of developing high blood pressure over the remainder of their lifespan is estimated to be 90 percent. And that's why there needs to be an across-the-board reduction, says Mary Muth.
NEIGHMOND: There have been some estimates that about 100,000 deaths per year are due to hypertension due to high sodium intake.
NEIGHMOND: Patti Neighmond, NPR News.
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