Some 70% of Americans say they do not know how much sodium they should get in a day. The numbers are similar for people with high blood pressure, with 56% not knowing how much or overestimating how much sodium they should consume in a day.
“With all the attention sodium has received in the last few years, including in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s surprising that Americans are still not well aware of sodium guidelines,” said Marianne Smith Edge, International Food Information Council senior vice president of Nutrition and Food Safety. “Particularly for the at-risk populations, such as those with high blood pressure, these results show there’s a great educational opportunity available to highlight the variety of ways to manage blood pressure.”
While a strong majority of Americans (83%) feel that certain people should be concerned with their sodium intake -- primarily those with high blood pressure and those with weight issues -- getting through to consumers may be difficult. On an unaided basis, consumers express very little interest in learning anything about sodium. When prompted, however, 50-63% are interested in topics regarding recommended intakes, food sources, and health impacts. If they hear anything about sodium, they want the information to come primarily from the medical community (55%), followed by the food label (46%), the government (31%) and food manufacturers (30%).
Taste is seen as the top barrier for those not limiting their sodium intake, with about four in 10 believing taste will suffer. Americans also see sodium reduction as just one of many contributing factors to a healthful diet. Increasing fruits and vegetables (70%) is far and away the consumers’ top choice when rating the three most important elements of a healthful diet, which is consistent with health professional recommendations. Only 38% rated limiting sodium as one of the most important factors. While the contribution of limiting sodium to a healthful diet remains middle-of-the-pack in the eyes of consumers, limiting sugar (48%) and monitoring calories (45%) saw significant increases from 2009.
“Because there are a variety of factors and approaches that go into building a healthful diet, it’s not surprising that limiting sodium is trumped by other dietary factors,” according to Smith Edge. “It is clear Americans understand positive messages that involve foods versus just nutrients -- like eat more fruits and vegetables -- as a good way to consume less sodium and more potassium.”
The “2011 IFIC Sodium Survey” randomly sampled 1,003 U.S. adults and is the second version of the Survey dating back to 2009. Other topics in the Survey include knowledge of sodium in food, perceptions of reduced sodium foods and interest in learning more about sodium. The full survey is available on foodinsight.org.
From the September 29, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.