Quick Poll: Sodium

April 23, 2010

This week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report that focused on sodium intake in The United States.

This week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report that focused on sodium intake in The United States.  The report concluded that a coordinated national effort to reduce sodium content in foods is necessary, if progress is to be made towards reducing the risk of hypertension and other major cardiovascular events among Americans.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has committed to review the IOM’s recommendations and work with other federal agencies, public health and consumer groups, and the food industry to support the reduction of sodium levels in our foods. 
According to the FDA, “today’s average sodium intake is several times what the body requires and its long-term effect on health is very serious [and avoidable]. Hypertension, affects one in three U.S. adults – nearly 75 million people aged 20 or older.  An additional 50 million adults suffer from pre-hypertension.  Hypertension can increase the risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and kidney failure. Too much sodium in the daily diet is a major contributor to high blood pressure.”
SupermarketGuru.com conducted a quick poll to gain insight into the minds of consumers regarding sodium consumption, shopping habits, and health.  An almost equal amount of consumers felt they either consumed too much, or just the right amount of sodium, 48 percent and 46 percent respectively.  But nonetheless, a vast majority, 67 percent are currently trying to reduce sodium intake.  Of those trying to reducing sodium intake, thirty one percent site the desire to be healthier, 28 percent to lower or stabilize blood pressure, 25 percent as a means of prevention and 10 percent of those surveyed are doing so in response to doctors orders. 
Twenty percent of consumers reducing sodium intake, read nutrition facts to gauge sodium content, 16 percent are cooking more food at home and eating more fruits and vegetables and 15 percent purchase products marked ‘low/less sodium.’
Several major food manufacturers are currently working to reduce the sodium content of their foods including, ConAgra Foods, Campbell Soup, and Kraft Foods.  Seventy eight percent of shoppers have noticed an increase in products marked ‘low sodium.’ Sixty eight percent sometimes purchase low sodium, while 21 percent always purchase low sodium groceries.  Fifty three percent always read labels to determine if products are low sodium while 42 percent sometimes check labels.  
Where do consumers think they obtain the most sodium?  Nineteen percent site canned soup, 16 percent say snacks and 15 percent think it’s the deli meat.  Frozen foods and potato chips tied for fourth place with 12 percent.  Only 6 percent felt that sprinkling salt on their food contributed to the majority of their salt intake.  When specifically asked about their salt sprinkling habits, 53 percent sometimes use the salt shaker, while 41 percent never use the shaker.

   ?Clearly the efforts of the food industry have not gone unnoticed, but the FDA is correct in saying that a coordinated national effort is imperative if a measurable impact is to be made.  For more information on sodium, including why we actually do need dietary sodium, check out Supermarket Guru’s Sodium 101 Update.