October 20th, 2011
CDC and AHA Tussle Over Just How Bad the Salt Problem Really Is
No matter how you slice it, a lot of people in the U.S. consume too much sodium. But the CDC and the American Heart Association (AHA) disagree about just how bad the salt problem really is.
U.S. guidelines currently recommend that everyone keep their daily sodium intake below 2300 mg, but a large subpopulation, including people aged 51 or older, blacks, and people with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, should further restrict their sodium intake below 1500 mg. Now, a report from the CDC finds that nearly half the population (47.6%) should adhere to the more restrictive 1500-mg guideline. The estimate is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
In a statement issued by the AHA, however, AHA president Gordon Tomaselli says the CDC report is “too conservative in its suggestion that only 47.6 percent of American adults fit into the population group that should be consuming no more than 1500 mg a day of sodium.”
Clyde Yancy, a former AHA president, spells out the reason for the AHA position: “Given that most of us – as many as 90% – will develop high blood pressure with age, we all should be consuming less than 1500 mg a day of sodium, unless your healthcare provider has told you that this doesn’t apply to you.”
No matter the goal, Americans are consuming far too much salt, according to the CDC report. Even with the more conservative CDC guidelines, 98.6% of those with the more restrictive 1500-mg recommendation are exceeding their limit, while 88.2% of the rest of the population is exceeding the 2300-mg limit.