Research Finds High Salt and Sodium Intake Persists in China

While salt added during food preparation has decreased over time, many Chinese provinces continue to exceed the recommended daily maximum intake of salt (5 g per day) and sodium (2 g per day) according to a research letter published Feb. 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Yongning Wu, PhD, of the China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment, Beijing, China, and colleagues compared salt and sodium consumption in China by analyzing studies designed to assess food consumed and its biochemical content. In 2000, 1,080 households were randomly selected to participate in these diet studies (n = 3,725); and from 2009 through 2012, 1,800 households were randomly selected to participate (n = 6,072). Study personnel recorded food consumption and weighted ingredients, including salt, during three consecutive daily visits.

Results showed that among the 20 Chinese provinces surveyed, the population-weighted, mean weighed salt intake of a standard person was 9.1 g per day and laboratory-analyzed sodium intake was 5.4 g per day. Among the provinces surveyed twice, salt intake decreased 22.2 percent. However, the 12.3 percent decrease in sodium intake was nonsignificant.

The authors conclude that, “China's diet is changing and refrigeration is replacing salt for food preservation. High sodium intake persists due to the addition of salt and other seasonings during food preparation, and increasing consumption of processed food. Further efforts are needed to limit salt and sodium intake, and regular monitoring is needed to assess progress.”

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