For Immediate Release: January 26, 2018
Jorge Amselle, Jorge@saltinstitute.org
The FDA recently released their “2018 Strategic Policy Roadmap,” which discusses the agency’s priorities for this year. Regarding recent sodium reduction efforts the policy document includes only the following statement; “Advancing guidance on dietary sodium reduction.” It is unclear what the FDA means, however, this statement should be seen in the full context of the Congressional 2017 and 2018 Agriculture appropriations, which prohibit the FDA from pursuing further sodium reduction efforts in schools.
“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this or any other Act shall be used to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel to implement any regulations under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.), the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.), the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–296), or any other law that would require a reduction in the quantity of sodium contained in federally reimbursed meals, foods, and snacks sold in schools below Target 1 (as described in section 220.8(f)(3) of title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations)) until the latest scientific research establishes the reduction is beneficial for children.”
“The FDA’s efforts under previous administrations to pursue unwarranted and unwise population wide sodium reduction is another example of the government creating policy based on outdated, incorrect sodium guidelines that have been refuted by ten years of research. Research shows Americans already eat within the safe range of sodium consumption and population-wide sodium reduction strategies are unnecessary and could be harmful,” said Lori Roman, President of the Salt Institute. (http://ajh.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/9/1138.extract)
The average American eats about 3,400 mg per day of sodium, according to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhanes/databriefs/calories.pdf). According to recent research this may actually be on the low side of the healthy range. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1311989), tested sodium consumption in more than 100,000 people in 18 countries. The study found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 5,000 mg per day. Eating less than 3,000 mg per day actually increases your risk of death or cardiovascular incidents more than a high salt diet.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association three years earlier, found the same results (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=899663&resultClick=24). This study measured the sodium intake of more than 3,500 people for the better part of a decade. Researchers discovered that low sodium diets were much more likely to result in death from cardiovascular disease. The fact is that a low salt diet is significantly more harmful than a high salt diet.
Dr. Michael Alderman and Dr. Hillel Cohen of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine reviewed 23 observational studies covering some 360,000 individuals and published their comprehensive results in the July 2012 edition of the American Journal of Hypertension (http://ajh.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/7/727.abstract?sid=6b8c3fa9-0d7b-4189-9f51-f791c16a1936). They also found that both the very low and very high levels of salt consumption negatively affected health, but in between those extremes, a very broad safe range of salt consumption resulted in optimum health. Based on this research, American average salt consumption is already in the safe range.
The Government’s own National Research Council Institute of Medicine conducted its own analysis of the available research on sodium and health in 2013 and found no scientific evidence supporting the population wide sodium reduction targets recommended by the U.S. government. The report recognized the limitations of the available evidence, and explained that there is no consistent evidence to support an association between sodium intake and either a beneficial or adverse effect on most direct health outcomes. http://www.saltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2014-IOM-Report-Populations.pdf
The Salt Institute fully supports the efforts of Members of Congress who demand that more thorough research be done on the total health effects of population wide sodium reduction strategies before any harm is done and encourages the FDA to reevaluate the last decade of research on sodium.
The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.