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Nueve fuera de 10 americanos consiguen demasiada sal

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 28, 2010
Americans need to shake
the salt habit for better health
America needs to stop passing the salt, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a report released Friday, the agency found that almost nine out of 10 Americans consume more salt than is good for them, with the average American eating 50 percent more salt than government scientists recommend. And those most at risk for chronic disease fared the worst, with only about one in 20 consuming the recommended levels of sodium.

Healthy adults should consume only about one teaspoon of salt a day, the CDC said. Excessive sodium consumption raises the risk for stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.

In fact, the CDC estimates that a population-wide drop in salt consumption by just 1,200 mg/day, the equivalent of about one McDonald's Double Cheeseburger, could cut the number of new cases of heart disease by 60,000 to 120,000 and stroke by 32,000 to 66,000.

The current CDC findings are based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005-2006, which checked the health of thousands of Americans.

According to the survey, only about 6 percent of adults in high-risk populations, such as adults middle-aged and older, those with high blood pressure and all blacks, met recommended intake levels. These groups, which include nearly 70 percent of the U.S. adult population, should consume less than 1,500 mg of salt a day, the CDC said. Around 19 percent of other adults, who should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, consumed within their recommended limits.

In total, only about 10 percent of American adults consumed appropriate amounts of salt. The average amount consumed was about 3,466 mg per day, almost 50 percent more than recommended.

More than a third of dietary salt comes from grains, the biggest culprit, supplying 1,288 mg of salt a day to the typical American's diet. Meat, poultry and fish came in second, with 994 mg a day.

As bad as the report is, the CDC notes that it might have underestimated the true levels of sodium consumed.

"[S]odium consumption estimates are based on self-reported intake data and thereby are subject to recall bias, misreporting of foods and portion sizes, and/or inaccurate or incomplete food composition tables," the CDC said in the report. Also, the study didn't include salt added at the table, from cooking or medications.

But governments are looking to crack down on salt consumption. Earlier this year, New York City began pressuring food manufacturers to lower sodium content in their products. And in April, the Institute of Medicine asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate sodium in food.