Revised guidelines may hurt Americans
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture may increase health risks, including obesity, by ignoring sound science as they announce recommendations to reduce sodium consumption to 1,500 mg per day. It is reckless for the government to risk the health of Americans by relying on substandard levels of evidence and refusing to consider new evidence.
The rationale behind the recommendation is purportedly blood pressure reduction. While no one doubts that a small percentage of our population may experience modest blood pressure declines from salt reduction, it has not been scientifically established that a population-wide reduction will benefit overall health. Research indicates health risks for some on low salt diets, including higher risk of heart attacks. And new research shows that not a single modern society consumes such a low level of salt as that recommended (less than 4 grams of salt per day). This recommendation is essentially an unauthorized massive clinical trial using 300 million Americans as guinea pigs.
Recent research (Can Dietary Sodium Intake be Modified by Public Policy? David A. McCarron, Joel C. Geerling, Alexandra G. Kazaks, Judith S. Stern) involving data collected from more than 19,000 individuals in 33 countries has demonstrated that healthy humans, all around the world, consume sodium within a relatively narrow range (2700 mg- 4900 mg sodium) – a range controlled by a number of physiological mechanisms. The DGAC recommended level of 1500 mg is drastically lower and will result in unintended health consequences if Americans strive to reach the recommended target.
Most nutritionists agree that reduced sodium in food preparations will very likely increase the obesity crisis because individuals will consume more calories just to satisfy their innate sodium appetite and their search for eating satisfaction.
Perhaps the greatest failure of the Dietary Guidelines is their priority focus on single nutrients rather than the whole diet. Concerns over blood pressure would be better addressed if Americans would eat more salads, vegetables and fruits. Italians consume more salt than Americans yet they have better cardiovascular health because they eat a well balanced diet. They use salt to make healthy foods more delicious...without adding calories.
The public comment period on the Dietary Guidelines is June 15 to July 15.