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Guest Thinkers

Time to End the War Against Salt

For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt but the drive has little basis in science. For the effort, all we may get is bland french fries. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The war against salt is long underway by government forces. Recently the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, convinced 16 companies to voluntarily regulate the amount of salt in their food products. Yet the health benefits of reduced salt intake are not well established. “This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in theAmerican Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure.”

What’s the Big Idea?

One reason that scientific research has had difficulty correlating salt intake with specific health problems is that individuals often respond very differently to changes in the amount of sodium in their diet. “Rather than create drastic salt policies based on conflicting data, researchers propose that the government sponsor a large, controlled clinical trial to see what happens to people who follow low-salt diets over time. … “A great number of promises are being made to the public with regard to this enormous benefit and lives saved,” says one researcher. But it is “based on wild extrapolations.”


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