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

Health Campaign Calls for 50% Less Salt Consumption

Because of the modern American diet, most people get too much sodium, though some older adults don’t get enough. How much salt is too much?

More and more evidence points to a need for Americans to decrease their salt intake. To that end, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the National Institutes of Health have kicked off a campaign with a goal of reducing individuals’ salt intake to 50% of the current levels.

Amy Schnabel, a clinical nutrition manager at UCLA Medical Center predicts that 90% of Americans will develop high blood pressure if they don’t take positive steps to prevent it.

High salt intake can lead to hypertension and increased risk of stroke or heart attack.
The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to vastly decrease cardiovascular disease risks.

A recent study in the British Medical Journal showed that reducing salt intake by about 30% can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25%.

According to experts, the key is improved awareness about what you eat—identifying which foods contain high amounts of sodium.

The FDA recommends no more than 2,400 mg per day, or about 1 teaspoon.


  • British Medical Journal (April 19, 2007)
  • Newswise: Belvoir Media Group