AHA Knocks CDC Estimate of US Sodium-Restriction Population

October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011 (Atlanta, Georgia) — Close to 90% of people in the US who should keep dietary sodium intake to a recommended <2300 mg/day go over that amount, as does virtually everyone in high-risk groups--almost half the population--with a recommended maximum of 1500 mg/day. Those are the salient points from a report in the October 21, 2011 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released today [1].

And the salient response from the American Heart Association (AHA) [2] was that the analysis, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deeply underestimates the proportion of Americans who should follow the more restrictive sodium-intake recommendation.

The CDC report, based on 2005–2008 data from >9000 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), contends that 47.6% of the US population more than two years of age falls into one of the high-risk groups with the more restrictive sodium-intake recommendation, including people older than 50, non-Hispanic blacks, and anyone with diagnosed hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. It says that 98.6% of such people go over the recommended 1500-mg/day threshold.

Of the remaining population not in a high-risk group, according to the report, 88.2% don't stay below 2300 mg/day; the figure is 95% among adults.

"We believe this CDC report is too conservative in its suggestion that only 47.6% of American adults fit into the population group that should be consuming no more than 1500 mg a day of sodium," says AHA president Dr Gordon Tomaselli (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD) in a press release from the group.

"This suggestion doesn't go far enough to address either the human or economic burden that our excessive intake of salt costs.  Other countries have realized this and are addressing it aggressively."

Also weighing in on the issue, past AHA president Dr Clyde Yancy (Northwestern University, Chicago, IL) points out in the press release that a 2009 CDC report [3] claims that the proportion of Americans who should consume <1500 mg/day sodium is more like 70%. "In the absence of new science, this target certainly shouldn't be reduced."

The 2009 statement from the CDC says, "The maximum daily sodium consumption of 1500 mg . . . applied to nearly 70% of US residents aged >20 years."


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