Yes, We Consume Too Much Salt

Sodium consumption double the amount recommended by WHO and AHA

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Salt: it preserves food, makes food tasty, and it's everywhere. But Americans and populations around the world are consuming way too much salt and sodium in general.

A study presented at a conference found that 75 percent of the world's population consumed almost twice as much sodium per day than recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since excess sodium raises blood pressure and leads to cardiovascular disease, the findings illustrate the need to lower salt and sodium consumption worldwide, according to researchers.

"Keep sodium consumption to less than 1,500 milligrams daily."

The study, led by Saman Fahimi, MD, a visiting scientist in the Harvard School of Public Health’s epidemiology department in Boston, analyzed 247 surveys of adults' sodium intake between 1990 and 2010 as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study.

The global study was done in collaboration with more than 480 scientists from 300 institutions in 50 countries. Researchers looked at sodium consumption by gender, age, region and nation.

Though the findings have not been peer reviewed, researchers found that 181 of the 187 countries included in the study exceeded the WHO's recommended sodium intake of less than 2,000 milligrams per day.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.

Furthermore, the people of 119 countries, which represent 88 percent of the world's population, exceeded the intake recommendation by more than 1,000 milligrams each day.

At 6,000 milligrams per day, the population of Kazakhstan consumed the most sodium, with Mauritius and Uzbekistan following behind at 5,600 and 5,500 milligrams per day, respectively.

The average American consumed 3,600 milligrams of sodium a day. Kenyans and Malawians had the lowest average intake at about 2,000 milligrams per day.

Sodium consumption did not change across age groups. As for gender, no men of any country consumed less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Women in only five countries consumed less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium.

"These findings make it possible, for the first time, to estimate corresponding preventable disease burdens in specific countries and by specific age and sex subgroups, identify the correlates of excess [sodium] intake in populations and inform health policies," researchers wrote in their report.

The study was presented March 21 at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2013 Scientific Sessions.

The authors did not report any conflicts of interest. GlaxoSmithKline, Sigma Tau, Pronova and the National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 28, 2013
Last Updated:
August 15, 2013