Sources of Sodium in US Adults
What are the major sources contributing to total sodium intake in a diverse sample of adults?
The investigators recruited 450 adults from three geographic locations: Birmingham, AL (n = 150); Palo Alto, CA (n = 150); and the Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN (n = 150), metropolitan areas. Equal numbers of women and men from each of four race/ethnic groups (blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites) were targeted for recruitment. Four record-assisted 24-hour dietary recalls were collected from each participant with special procedures, which included the collection of duplicate samples of salt added to food at the table and in home food preparation.
Sodium added to food outside the home was the leading source of sodium, accounting for more than two thirds (70.9%) of total sodium intake in the sample. Although the proportion of sodium from this source was smaller in some subgroups, it was the leading contributor for all subgroups. Contribution ranged from 66.3% for those with a high school level of education or less to 75.0% for those 18-29 years of age. Sodium inherent to food was the next highest contributor (14.2%), followed by salt added in home food preparation (5.6%) and salt added to food at the table (4.9%). Home tap water consumed as a beverage and dietary supplement and nonprescription antacids contributed minimally to sodium intake (<0.5% each). To characterize sources of sodium among population subgroups, analyses were carried out stratified by sex, age, level of education, race, and geographic region.
The authors concluded that sodium added to food outside the home accounted for approximately 70% of dietary sodium intake.
This study reports that sodium added to food outside the home was the leading source of sodium in this diverse sample, accounting for more than two thirds of total sodium intake. These findings support the Institute of Medicine–recommended primary strategy to reduce sodium intake in the United States through setting targets to reduce the sodium content of commercially processed and prepared foods. While limiting salt added to food at the table and in home food preparation should also be encouraged, changes in these behaviors alone may be insufficient for achieving the recommended sodium intake level.
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