October 20/Dallas/GlobeNewswire -- Americans are eating too much sodium, and the American Heart Association believes the country needs to increase its public health efforts to encourage the public and private sectors of the food industry to reduce sodium in the food supply, a point emphasized in a report issued from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently, more than 75% of the sodium we consume comes from packaged or prepared foods, and sodium levels are high in many restaurant foods. Statistics presented in the CDC report underscore the urgency of reducing sodium in the U.S. food supply. Experts agree that people in certain population groups, such as those who either have high blood pressure or who are at high risk of developing it, should aim for a sodium target of less than 1500mg a day. Some 98% of the people in the highest-risk groups, which include African-Americans, older adults (51+) and persons with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic disease, are not achieving that goal.

"However, we believe this CDC report is too conservative in its suggestion that only 47.6% of American adults fit into the population group that should be consuming no more than 1500mg a day of sodium," says Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., president of the American Heart Association, and the Michel Mirowski, M.D., professor of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. "With the direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular disease already at $444 billion a year and rising, and with high blood pressure the single largest driver of those costs, this suggestion doesn't go far enough to address either the human or economic burden that our excessive intake of salt costs. Other countries have realized this and are addressing it aggressively."

The American Heart Association believes many more Americans should heed a target sodium intake of 1500mg a day or less. "Given that most of us -- as many as 90% -- will develop high blood pressure with age, we all should be consuming less than 1500mg a day of sodium, unless your healthcare provider has told you that this doesn't apply to you," says Clyde Yancy, M.D., former American Heart Association president and the Magerstadt professor of medicine and chief of the division of cardiology; Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine; Chicago, Illinois.

Yancy points out that a prior 2009 report from the CDC on this same topic suggested that approximately 70% of American adults should be included in the 1500mg/day of sodium restriction. In the absence of new science, this target certainly should not be reduced. Yancy says, "The data which drove us to this new target of 1500mg of sodium per day cannot be minimized and conversely the benefits of significant sodium reduction globally and especially in those at risk cannot be overstated."

 From the October 24, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.