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CDC: Most Americans Exceed Recommended Sodium Intake

Posted:  Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sodium intake declined slightly during 2003–2010 in children ages 1 to 13 years, but not in adolescents or adults, according to a new Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC analyzed 2003–2010 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 34,916 participants ages one year or older. Small declines in the prevalence of excess sodium intake occurred during 2003–2010 in children ages 1 to 13 years, but not in adolescents or adults. Mean sodium intake declined slightly among participants, but sodium density did not. Despite slight declines in some groups, the majority of the U.S. population consumes excess sodium.

Excess sodium intake is defined as intake above the Institute of Medicine tolerable upper intake levels (1,500 mg/day at ages 1 to 3 years; 1,900 mg at 4 to 8 years; 2,200 mg at 9 to 13 years; and 2,300 mg at more than 14 years). During 2007–2010, the prevalence of excess usual sodium intake ranged from 79.1% for children less than 3 years old and up to 95.4% for adults ages 19 to 50 years.

Excess usual sodium intake declined 2.7-4.9% from 2003–2006 to 2007–2010 among children ages 1 to 3, 4 to 8, and 9 to 13 years, but not among adolescents or adults. Among children ages 4 to 8 years, statistically significant declines occurred across all sex and race/ethnicity subgroups.

Mean usual sodium intake among participants decreased slightly from 2003–2004 to 2009–2010 (3,518 mg versus 3,424 mg). Participants consumed, on average, approximately 1,700 mg sodium per 1,000 kcal during 2009–2010, with no significant trend over time compared with previous investigation years. Across age groups, mean usual sodium density did not change significantly over time, with the exception of youths ages 14 to 18 years, for whom sodium density increased slightly. Within age groups, mean usual sodium density slightly increased among males ages 4 to 8 and females ages 14 to 18 and slightly declined among non-Hispanic whites ages 51 and older.

A 2013 survey determined most consumers are unaware of the amount of salt they consume. In fact, about 50% of urban consumers believe they eat less than 5 grams of salt per day when, in reality, people are likely to consume as much as three times the recommended daily amount.

Further, despite efforts, sodium levels in main entrées offered by top U.S. chain restaurants have remained the same. With more consumers eating "on the run" now than ever, this can pose a challenge for reduction efforts.

Trends in the Prevalence of Excess Dietary Sodium Intake — United States, 2003–2010
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
December 20, 2013 / 62(50);1021-1025

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