2 November 2012
The American Heart Association (AHA) has reaffirmed its message that sodium intake should be limited to less than 1500mg per day – but Australian experts say the public is struggling to get below 2300mg.
The main basis for the recommendation was the strength of the evidence linking excess sodium intake to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The advisory statement from the AHA, which was prompted by controversial research suggesting a reduction in salt consumption did not improve cardiovascular health, involved a comprehensive literature review.
Lead author and professor of global public health at Tulane University in New Orleans, Dr Paul Whelton, said people should not be swayed by the contradictory research, which had serious methodological weaknesses.
The Australian Heart Foundation says everyone should try to get below 2300mg sodium, which is equivalent to about 6g salt. The NHMRC recommends a target of 1600mg and an upper limit of 2300mg.
However, the recently published Victorian Health Monitor found the average adult sodium intake was 3182mg.
Australian division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) chair Professor Bruce Neal said the recommendations were a compromise between what was required and what was achievable.
“The important thing for people to realise is they are not just eating a little bit more, they are eating massively more and they need to eat less. That still comes across with these slightly different targets.”
It was almost impossible for people to eat less salt because they lived in an environment where it was “added to everything”, he said, blaming the food industry.
The Heart Foundation’s national cardiovascular health director Dr Rob Grenfell said the AHA recommendation was sound but adequate intake would be 1–1.5g salt, which was not feasible with the current food supply. “When you are setting targets you really have to look at the practicalities of it,” he said.
Last Reviewed: 02 November 2012