This blog post is authored by Dr. Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy, and Colin Schwartz, MPP, senior nutrition policy associate, at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
The science on salt is under attack—again.
There have been recent studies that question the science behind salt reduction. These man-bites-dog studies are irresistible to reporters, and to publications and websites that are anxious to attract readers. Contrarian studies are so much more appealing than the same-old boring high-quality scientific research that supports reducing salt intake to moderate levels for better health.
But the fact is many peer-reviewed studies and virtually every authoritative organization that has reviewed the literature support recommendations to reduce salt intake to moderate levels.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has developed, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, a new infographic to help clear up some of the confusion on salt. The uncertainty these studies fuel have serious ramifications for consumers, who throw up their hands and question if they should change their diets given the manufactured controversy. They also threaten policies that support Americans’ ability to lower their salt intake.
Currently there are two policies pending in Congress that would halt progress on salt reduction.
The House child nutrition reauthorization bill, the cynically-named Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003), would halt schools’ progress in continuing to moderate salt levels in school meals, despite virtually all schools (98.5%) having made some good initial progress.
A second policy under consideration, a rider inserted in the FY2017 House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 5054), would delay final guidance from the FDA on voluntary targets to moderate salt levels in packaged and restaurant food (the draft guidance was released June 1). The U.S. is lagging behind other countries to bring salt down to safe levels; more than 50 countries have adopted voluntary or mandatory reductions in the salt content of certain foods.
As the infographic points out, nine out of ten adults and children eat too much salt.
The American Heart Association reviewed studies that reported inconsistent findings relating sodium and cardiovascular disease and found an average of three to four methodological issues per study. As our new infographic summarizes, experts agree and the best science shows the health benefits of moderate salt consumption.
Dr. Margo Wootan is the director of nutrition policy, and Colin Schwartz, MPP is senior nutrition policy associate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
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