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Study challenges public policy-dictated sodium intake goal (Press release)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        Contact: Dick Hanneman   
Phone:  703-549-4648
October 19, 2009                                
[email protected]
New study challenges whether public policy-dictated sodium intake goal is achievable
Alexandria, VA -  A study released on-line this week in The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology indicates that physiology, not public policy, will determine a human’s daily sodium intake. This research likely represents a important step forward  in light of past and current efforts by government agencies and government funded organizations to set progressively restrictive guidelines for salt intake among U.S. citizens.

The study, Can Dietary Sodium Intake be Modified by Public Policy? (David A. McCarron, Joel C. Geerling, Alexandra G. Kazaks, Judith S. Stern), analyzed existing research to determine whether sodium or salt intake follows a pattern consistent with a range set by the brain to protect normal function of organs such the heart and kidney. The analysis is based upon 19,151 subjects studied in 62 previously published surveys and reflects the differing ‘food environments’ of 33 countries. The data reported documents that humans have a habitual sodium intake in the range of 2800 to 4600 mg/day with an average of 3600 mg/day. Currently, the U.S. consumes an average of about 3,500 mg/day.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of the U.S. Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers 2,300 mg/day sodium to be a healthy maximum almost 20% lower than the minimum intake observed in the 19,000-plus subjects reported in this first-time analysis. In spite of that reality, the Committee is in the midst of a review to determine whether that recommendation should be lowered even further. An Institute of Medicine Committee is also considering a strategy to reduce dietary sodium.
According to study’s lead author Dr. David A McCarron, policy makers should thoughtfully consider this evidence that sodium intake is physiologically set and tightly regulated by networks in the human brain, thus making it unlikely that public policy can change it.  Dr. McCarron was joined by two other scientists from UC Davis’ Department of Nutrition and a neuroscientist from Washington University, St. Louis.
"The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee would ignore this study at its peril," said Salt Institute president Richard L. Hanneman.  "If confirmed by further research, it would show the government’s entire strategy to reduce sodium intake below natural levels is unachievable." 

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