Sodium Consumption Is Way Too High Among The Average American

First Posted: Jan 07, 2016 03:00 PM EST

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that regardless of race, age, gender or even high blood pressure, the majority of Americans are consuming more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.

Findings revealed that more than 90 percent of children and up to 89 percent of adults between the ages of 19 and up ate too much sodium based on the recommended limits in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, not including added table salt; these guidelines, which are released every five years, recommend the consumption of no less than 2,300 mg of salt per day for people over the age of 14 and less for those even younger.

"The finding that nine of ten adults and children still consume too much salt is alarming," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, in a news release. "The evidence is clear: too much sodium in our foods leads to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Reducing sodium in manufactured and restaurant foods will give consumers more choice and save lives."

For their research, the study authors analyzed dietary data from the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) to determine how much sodium Americans ate, including about 15,000 people in the study.

Here's specifically what researchers found, courtesy of the release:

• Among adults, a larger proportion of men (98 percent) than women (80 percent) consume too much sodium.
• About 90 percent of adult whites consume excess sodium compared with 85 percent of blacks.
• Estimated sodium and calorie consumption peaks between the ages of 19 and 50.
• Among people at greater risk of developing heart disease or stroke - such as people age 51 and older, African Americans and individuals with high blood pressure or pre-hypertension (blood pressure higher than normal but not in the "high" range) - more than three out of four exceed 2,300 mg per day.
• Adults with hypertension consume slightly less sodium than other adults, and may be trying to follow physicians' advice to reduce sodium. However, 86 percent of adults with hypertension still consume too much.

Researchers estimate that over three quarters of our sodium intake come from processed and restaurant foods typical of an American diet. Health officials, however, believe that a key strategy in lowering population-wide sodium intake might involve gradually reducing sodium involved in food supply.

"Sodium reduction is a key part of preventing heart disease and stroke," said Sandra Jackson, an author of the report and an epidemiologist in CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. "Reducing sodium is an achievable and effective strategy to improve heart health for everyone, but it's going to take all of us working together to make it possible."

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