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New U.S. Dietary Guidelines Focus on Salt Reduction
Date:1/31/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Long-awaited U.S. dietary guidelines released Monday -- the first since 2005 -- focus on getting Americans to slash their salt intake.

Specifically, the seventh edition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans limit their daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon) a day for most people and to less than 1,500 milligrams among people aged 51 or older, all blacks, and people who have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, regardless of their age.

Given the current obesity epidemic and its attendant chronic health problems, this lower limit ends up applying to about half of the U.S. population, the guidelines stated.

"The focus is still on salt," said Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "We know that most Americans are eating two times or more of what's recommended which is 2,300 milligrams a day for most people. We still need to reduce our daily intake."

U.S. health officials agreed.

"Today the average American probably consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium, so this is a fairly significant effort on our part and it must be reflected in the decisions that food-processing companies, in particular, make over time so folk don't necessarily reject out of hand these guidelines because the taste is so fundamentally different," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a Monday news conference.

The guidance should help Americans as they navigate product labeling outlining the sodium content of various foods, he added.

Not everyone thought the USDA went far enough, however. In a statement, the American Heart Association said that by applying the 1,500 milligram per day intake level only to people a
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