NYC Health Department wrong on sodium warnings

Press Release

For Immediate Release: September 9, 2015
Contact: 703-549-4648
Laura Elliott, laura@saltinstitute.org

NYC Health Department wrong on sodium warnings

Alexandria, VA—In a misguided attempt to further control what people eat, the New York City Board of Health today approved a regulation to mandate that chain restaurants post salt warnings on their menus. This rule, which goes into effect on December 1, applies to menu items that contain over 2,300 milligrams of sodium.

“This is another example of the government creating policy based on outdated, incorrect sodium guidelines that have been refuted by ten years of research.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). The New York City Board of Health believes this is too much, but according to new research it 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 17 countries. The study found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 6,000 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.

“In the last decade research seems to indicate that our bodies answer to a higher calling than the whims of bureaucrats. It appears that people, like animals, naturally seek out just about the right amount of salt over the course of a day,” stated Roman.

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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.

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