Despite all the claims of success made by the salt reduction advocates around the world, the actual results of their efforts on the marketplace don't come close to matching their rhetoric.
The world's largest soup company and the one that has been most aggressive in claiming major salt reductions for their line of soups has also experienced a dramatic decline in their soup sales since their salt reduction program began.
Despite the claims of reduced salt consumption by the now defunct Food Standards Agency, the sales of retail salt in the UK (including cooking, table and sea salt) have shot up by anywhere from 17.5 - 26.5% in the last year, depending upon which market watch reports you subscribe to . This seems to confirm what we have always believed - remove the salt from processed foods and consumers will simply replace it with table salt.
The latest news appears to be even more ominous for the anti-salt advocates. Yesterday's edition of the Irish Times contains an article describing the growing resistance to Ireland's copycat salt reduction program .
Paul Cullen, the consumer affairs correspondent for the Irish Times reports that a number of companies are starting to pull out of the Irish Food Safety Authority's registry of companies willing to join in salt reduction efforts. Even more significant, a far greater number than ever before have declined to even join the effort. Perhaps they, too, have been monitoring what has actually been going on in the marketplace.
The very public salt reduction circus continues to play out in the media, but when considering this ongoing shambles, it is far more important to be cognizant of real market developments rather than paying attention to the hype.
This week may go down as one of the bleakest in nutritional history. By total chance, two seemingly unrelated fragments of research coalesced to reveal the potential for unwarranted dietary recommendations, such as those promulgated by the Dietary Guidelines, to wreak havoc upon society.
In large headlines, London’s Daily Mail reported that researchers from Maastricht University in Holland have discovered that reduced salt diets during pregnancy lead to a disproportionate number of female births! Their conclusions followed a five-year study involving 172 Western European women aged from 23 to 42 who had all previously given birth to boys, but this time around they wanted girls.
Researchers instructed the women to cut out salt and eat lots of dairy products. Because diets with low levels of salt are not very palatable, many of the women dropped out of the survey, but 21 women stuck it out to the end. And, of the 21, 16 gave birth to daughters – indicating an astonishing success rate of almost 80 per cent!
Although this was the first time that humans have allowed themselves to be guinea pigs for such experiments, it will certainly not be the last. If the latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for American, expected to be released shortly, will ever be implemented it promises to be the largest clinical trial on record, using the entire population of the United States – 308 million people - as the test subjects. The new Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 4 grams of salt per day on average, a level lower than ever experienced in recorded human history and considerably less than that of any other modern society in the world!
If the researchers at Maastricht University are correct, this Dietary Guidelines recommendation may spell the doom of society as we know it.
No, I am not referring to our evolution into a female-dominated society similar to that living in the area north of the Black Sea, described by the famous Greek historian, Herodotus, in the fifth century BC. We all know that the all–female society of fierce warriors he called Amazons is little more than a myth.
What I am referring to is the second fragment of apocalyptic research recently announced by economists Gordon Dahl from the University of Rochester and Enrico Moretti from UCLA . They analyzed three million U.S. birth and marriage records, and found that married couples with one daughter are almost 5 percent more likely to split up, versus those with one son. And the effect grew more pronounced with more offspring. Parents of three girls are about 10 percent more likely to divorce than those with three boys. The numbers were even worse in other countries.
Mounting evidence in social science journals demonstrates that the divorce rate is eroding society as we know it and will have a devastating effect upon future generations (small as they eventually may be).
Were the Dietary Guidelines to be followed, the reduced salt diets recommended would lead to a veritable torrent of fairer sex births shadowed by an epidemic of divorce, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1857 British Matrimonial Causes Act.
The breakdown of society is another in the long list of unintended consequences resulting from the unwise and totally unwarranted recommendations resulting from the latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines.