Committee Advocates Less Sodium

At 3,400 milligrams of salt per day, most Americans consume nearly double the fewer than 2,300 milligrams recommended by Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Now the gap could become more pronounced as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests daily limits be set at fewer than 1,500 milligrams. The recommendation is to gradually decrease sodium, said Penelope Slade-Sawyer, Health

WASHINGTON — At 3,400 milligrams of salt per day, most Americans consume nearly double the fewer than 2,300 milligrams recommended by Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Now the gap could become more pronounced as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests daily limits be set at fewer than 1,500 milligrams.

“The recommendation is to gradually decrease sodium,” said Penelope Slade-Sawyer, Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The suggestion is just one in a 600-page report used to advise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. A public comment period began last week.

The committee offered no guidance about how to reduce salt, except for pointing to a report from the Institute of Medicine that suggests the government mandate sodium levels and work with the food industry to reduce salt over a period of years.

Also recommended is an increase in physical activity; a drop in saturated fat from 10% of total calories to 7%; and more plant-based foods.

“Thirty-five percent of calories consumed by Americans are solid fats and sugars, so if these are greatly reduced, consumption of nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits and whole grains can be increased without increasing overall energy intake,” said Robert Post, deputy director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA.