90% of U.S. Adults Get Too Much Salt

Less than 10 percent of U.S. adults limit their daily sodium intake to recommended levels, according to a new report, “Sodium Intake in Adults – United States, 2005-2006,” published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report also finds that most sodium in the American diet comes from processed grains such as pizza and cookies, and meats, including poultry and luncheon meats.

According to the report, U.S. adults consume an average of 3,466 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, more than twice the current recommended limit for most Americans. Grains provide 36.9 percent of this total, followed by dishes containing meat, poultry, and fish (27.9 percent). These two categories combined account for almost two-thirds of the daily sodium intake for Americans.

An estimated 77 percent of dietary sodium comes from processed and restaurant foods. Many of these foods, such as breads and cookies, may not even taste salty. “Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits,” said Janelle Peralez Gunn, public health analyst with CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and lead author of the report. “Public health professionals, together with food manufacturers, retailers and health care providers, must take action now to help support people’s efforts to reduce their sodium consumption.”

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Specific groups, including persons with high blood pressure, all middle-aged and older adults and all blacks, should limit intake to 1500 mg per day. These specific groups comprise nearly 70 percent of the U.S. adult population. This study found that only 9.6 percent of all participants met their applicable dietary recommendation, including 5.5 percent of the group limited to 1,500 mg per day and 18.8 percent of the 2,300 mg per day group.

The report examined data for 2005–2006 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing study that explores the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. Researchers used information from 24-hour dietary recall and the USDA National Nutrient Database to estimate the daily sodium intake and sources of sodium intake for U.S. adults.

The findings add to a growing body of observational research studies on Americans’ excessive sodium consumption. Overconsumption of sodium can have negative health effects, including increasing average levels of blood pressure. One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, and an estimated 90 percent of U.S. adults will develop the disease in their lifetime. Blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death among adults in the United States.

Source: CDC, June 24, 2010

TV in Teens’ Bedrooms Promotes Poor Diet and Exercise Routines

University of Minnesota School of Public Health researchers have found that a television in the bedroom promotes poor dietary, study and exercise habits among teenagers. 62% of a sample of 781 teenagers aged 15 to 18 in the Minneapolis area had a television in their bedroom, and spent 4 to 5 hours per week watching television. Bedroom TV owners ranked as heavy watchers, at least 5 hours a day—twice the amount of teenagers without one.

Boys among the television owners achieved a lower grade point average, had less fruit and ate fewer meals with the family than boys without one. Girls owning television sets spent only 1.8 hours per week exercising (versus 2.5 hours for girls without one), consumer less vegetables, ate fewer family meals and drank more sweetened soft drinks.

Daheia Barr-Anderson, one of the research team, was quoted as saying that these results showed that there were clear advantages to banning a TV from a teenager’s bedroom. This view was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which encouraged the removal of TV sets by parents from their childrens’ bedrooms. The findings of the study were published in the Academy’s journal, Pediatrics.

Statistically, the study showed that 68% of boys, compared with 58% of girls, would probably have a bedroom TV, while children from the highest income families were less likely to have one. 82% of black teenagers had a television in their bedroom, while only 66% of Hispanic teens and 60% of whites had one. 39% of Asian American teens reported ownership.

In this study, body mass index was not found to influence teenage obesity, although Barr-Andersen quoted previous studies that showed that ownership of a bedroom TV was a strong predictor of obesity. Both boys and girls with bedroom TV’s admitted to devoting less time to reading and homework, although the differences were not statistically significant, said the researchers.

Healthy Lifestyle More Important than Supplements for Boosting Immune System

A healthy lifestyle—not vitamin and herbal supplemnts—is the most important factor in boosting your immune system, according to a recent report by Harvard Medical School.

While manufacturers of supplements make the claim that suplements "support immunity," there is currently little scientific evidence to support that claim, since scientists have not yet determined what level of immune system cells best helps the body resists disease.

According to the report, The Truth About Your Immune System: What You Need to Know, lifestyle factors that promote overall health are:

  • avoiding smoking
  • eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and a diet low in saturated fat
  • exercising on a regular basis
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • controlling your blood pressure
  • drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • getting enough sleep
  • Avoid infection, for example by frequent hand-washing and safe food preparation habits.

The 43-page report was edited by Dr. Michael N. Starnbach, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Source: Harvard Health Publications

Poor Diet May Affect Teen Asthma

New research on asthma and diet shows that teens with poor diets may be more likely than their peers to have asthma symptoms and worse lung function.

The findings come from a study of some 2,100 teens in 12 U.S. and Canadian communities. In a nutshell, the teens with less than ideal diets were the most likely to have poorer lung function — including asthma symptoms — than their peers.

Diet: Staying Motivated

Diets can fail for a number of reasons:

* You may have set unrealistic goals and feel a failure when you can’t meet them.
* The diet may be too rigid to follow for long.
* You may not have prepared yourself for what happens after you finish the diet.
* You may be losing weight for other people.
* You could be relying on willpower alone.
* You lack the skills to succeed.