FDA Releases Sodium Reduction Targets
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 1 released draft guidance intended to encourage the food industry to gradually reduce the amount of sodium in foods. Currently, Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg of sodium per day, close to 50 percent above what experts recommend. The two and 10-year voluntary sodium reduction targets aim to bring sodium intake down to 2,300 mg/day. The ACC plans to submit comments to the FDA in support of the draft guidance.
"Salt reduction targets released by the FDA today are a positive step forward in raising awareness of excessive salt in the American diet and providing healthier food options," said ACC President Richard Chazal, MD, FACC, in a statement. "High blood pressure, which is associated with excessive sodium intake, is an important risk factor for heart disease that can be reduced through a healthy lifestyle, which also includes exercise and a diet with a variety of unprocessed foods."
The FDA underscored the connection between sodium intake and heart disease. "The science supporting the relationship between sodium reduction and health is clear: When sodium intake increases, blood pressure increases, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – two leading causes of death in the U.S.," said the Agency.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "tens of thousands of premature deaths" per year could be prevented and "tens of billions of dollars" could be saved if the food industry fully meets the sodium reduction targets.
The 2013 ACC/American Heart Association Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk advises adults who would benefit from blood pressure lowering to consume no more than 2,400 mg of sodium/day. It also notes that further reduction of sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day can result in even greater reduction in blood pressure, and even without achieving these goals, reducing sodium intake by at least 1,000 mg/day lowers blood pressure.
The Million Hearts Initiative, of which ACC is a partner, has been working to reduce sodium intake and help patients control their blood pressure since it launched in 2011. The ACC also actively educates patients on sodium and hypertension through its CardioSmart initiative.
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