The CDC estimates that 77 percent of sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods – with most of it in foods that may not taste salty. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a daily intake of less than 2,300mg of sodium. But specific groups, comprising nearly 70 percent of the US population, should not surpass 1,500mg of sodium a day according to the guidelines, including those with high blood pressure, blacks, and anyone middle-aged or older.
The CDC’s new research found that an average of 9.6 percent of the total population consumed sodium within the recommended limits, including only 5.5 percent of those advised to consume 1,500mg or less, and 18.8 percent of those advised to consume a maximum of 2,300mg.
Call for industry action
Public health analyst with CDC's division for heart disease and stroke prevention and lead author of the report Janelle Peralez Gunn said: "Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it's difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits. Public health professionals, together with food manufacturers, retailers and health care providers, must take action now to help support people's efforts to reduce their sodium consumption."
Grains, including refined grain products such as pizza and cookies, were found to contribute the most sodium to the American diet, at 36.9 percent of the total, followed by dishes containing meat, poultry and fish, at 27.9 percent. Meat and grain-based products were found to account for nearly two-thirds of Americans’ daily sodium intake, the CDC said.
Food industry pledges
Industry has been making strides toward slashing the sodium content of its products, and many major manufacturers have made fresh sodium reduction commitments over the past year, including General Mills, Kraft, ConAgra and Unilever.
Most recently, The Campbell Soup Company said this month that it would start distribution of a further 21 varieties of its condensed soups reformulated with reduced sodium content.
The CDC’s latest sodium research was based on findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005-6 and the US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database.
The findings are published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.