A Salty Issue

Salt policy makers do not follow their own recommendations

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure, and the individuals who may be best aware of that are policy makers focusing on salt consumption. Ironically, a recent review shows even that group consumes too much salt.

Though workers at national organizations responsible for developing guidelines for sodium consumption would seem well aware of the recommendations, a recent study found they are consuming more than the suggested amount in a single meal at work.

Consuming too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and contribute to a heightened heart disease and stroke risk.

"Always try to lower your sodium intake."

Dr. Lizzy Brewster, a study leader from the University of Amsterdam, said the Dutch policy makers were found to consume 6 grams of sodium in a single meal at work and an average of 15.4 grams a day, increasing their risk of premature death from stroke by 36 percent and their early heart disease risk by up to 27 percent.

Researchers decided to focus on the policy makers because it was assumed they would have high awareness of the risks linked to high salt intake.

Dutch investigators selected 18 cafeterias and restaurants inside the Department of Health, the Health Council, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, and university and non-university hospitals in the Netherlands.

Researchers collected a typical hot lunch from the staff cafeterias of organizations and agencies on three random days.

They found that average salt content of the meals was 7 grams - exceeding the total daily recommended salt intake of 6 grams and was high at all locations.

Researchers also surveyed employees about how frequently they ate hot lunch at work, finding that 63 percent said that ate the meals at work and had another hot meal at home for dinner.

Researchers estimate those workers would be consuming about 15.4 grams a day, which is 9.4 grams more than the suggested amount in the Netherlands.

Though Dutch officials suggest a sodium threshold at 6,000 milligrams per day, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams a day for all populations.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 20, 2011
Last Updated:
December 20, 2011