Last Wednesday, April 21, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a new report on high blood pressure entitled Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. The report was sponsored by the CDC, FDA, and NIH. High blood pressure is one of the nation’s leading causes of death, responsible for roughly one in six deaths among adults annually. Nearly one in three adults have high blood pressure, placing huge economic demands on the health care system- estimated at $73.4 billion in direct and indirect costs in 2009 alone. We’re still in the process of reviewing the report to see how we could leverage some of our nutrition programs to make a difference.
The report concludes that a coordinated approach is needed to reduce sodium content in food including the setting of standards for acceptable sodium levels in processed foods. The report recommends setting a national goal to slowly, over time, reduce the sodium content of the food supply in a way that goes unnoticed by most consumers as individuals’ taste sensors adjust to the lower levels of sodium.
The FDA issued a Statement on IOM Sodium Report this week that they will be reviewing the IOM report over the coming weeks and build plans for how they can work with other federal agencies, public health and consumer groups, and the food industry to support the reduction of sodium levels in the food supply. The Department of Health and Human Services will be also establishing an interagency working group on sodium at the Department that will review options and next steps.
Don’t forget you can pledge to eat less sodium, sign up for healthy recipes and learn more about sodium reduction at Eatwellbewell.org.