Salt Reduction in U.K. Drives Down Heart Disease & Stroke Deaths
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
April 14, 2014
The British government has successfully educated individuals about reducing their sodium consumption and has aggressively encouraged companies to market less-salty foods. And according to the findings published in BMJ Open, those efforts are likely partly responsible for plummeting rates of heart attack and stroke deaths in the United Kingdom.
It's a shame that while the British government has actively prompted progress on the part of industry and consumers, our Food and Drug Administration dithers, waiting in vain for more than 40 years for companies to voluntarily cut salt. It's a strategy that has plainly failed, as Americans are still getting more than twice as much sodium as they should, mostly from processed and restaurant foods.
Almost four years ago the Institute of Medicine called on the FDA to set mandatory limits on the levels of sodium allowed in various categories of food. Doing that would have been the single most effective (and inexpensive) thing the FDA could have done to save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of health care dollars. Halving Americans' sodium intake could save 100,000 lives annually. Because the Obama Administration hasn't done anything, America is unnecessarily digging about 100,000 early graves every year, each to be filled with a heart attack or stroke victim.