FDA Advises Americans to Decrease Sodium Intake

The Food and Drug Administration is advising people to consume less sodium in a draft guidance released today.

The guidelines, which are voluntary, urge the food industry to decrease salt levels in food to help people decrease their sodium intake to a healthier level over a short-term (two year) and long-term (10 year) period. The FDA suggests sodium intake be at about 2,300 milligrams per day, whereas the average daily sodium intake in the U.S. is 3,400 milligrams per day.

“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.”

Officials hope that food manufacturers whose products make up the greatest amount of sales nationwide will buy in to the effort.

The FDA is seeking comment on the guidance over the next few months.

American College of Cardiology President Richard Chazal praised the guidance as “a positive step forward in raising awareness of excessive salt in the American diet.”

“High blood pressure, which is associated with excessive sodium intake, is an important risk factor for heart disease that can be reduced through a healthy lifestyle, which also includes exercise and a diet with a variety of unprocessed foods,” he said in a statement.

Similarly, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown stressed the announcement was a “first step” in a Huffington Post blog post.

“This starts an important discussion about the sodium content in our food supply and gives the food industry goals to work toward,” she writes. “While the FDA adjusts and finalizes the targets over the next year, members of the food industry should take steps now — if they haven’t already — to start reformulating their products.”

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