Sara - posted on 04/28/2010 ( 64 moms have responded )
Every body needs salt, but the amount in which it is consumed in America is far greater than necessary. Salt helps to maintain the water content in blood, balances blood’s acids and bases, and is essential for the movement of electrical charges in the nerves that move our muscles. However, the overuse of salt can result in chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association recommends a diet containing no more than 2,400 mg of sodium (1 teaspoon) per day, but it is estimated that Americans consume, on average, 4,000 to 6,000 mg of sodium per day. Salt is heavily used in processed and prepared foods, from salad dressings to cookies to your favorite potato chips.
Today, a panel from the Institute of Medicine recommended that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulate the amount of sodium used in processed food. Decades of recommendations have not been heeded by the public, and given the amount of processed food purchased in this country, the best way to reduce salt consumption is by regulating the companies preparing the food.
Jane Henney, panel chairwoman, said "For 40 years we have known about the relationship between sodium and the development of hypertension and other life threatening diseases, but we have had virtually no success in cutting back the salt in our diets…. The best way to accomplish this is to provide companies the level playing field they need so they are able to work across the board to reduce salt in the food supply."
Whether or not the FDA complies with the recommendation remains to be seen, but the panel has our best interests at heart, so to speak. According to recent research, a combined effort made by the United States government and the food industry to reduce American salt consumption by just 10 percent could prevent as many as half a million heart attacks, while saving the nation about $32 million in healthcare costs.
Along the same lines, another program known as the National Salt Reduction Initiative is calling for a 20 percent reduction in salt intake over the next five years. The initiative is lead by the New York City Health Department, under the direction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and is aimed at both food manufacturers and restaurants. If nothing else, both of these recommendations may reach public eyes and consumers will make more informed decisions on their food purchases.
What do you all think of this? Should the government regulate things like this?