ATLANTA — U.S. adults consume an average of 3,466 mg of sodium per day, more than twice the recommended limit for many segments of the U.S. population, according to a new report, “Sodium intake in adults — United States, 2005-2006,” published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report examined data for 2005-2006 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing study that explores the health and nutritional status of adults and children.
During 2005-2006, only 9.6% of all participants met the applicable 2005 recommended dietary limit for sodium. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended people consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Specific groups, including people with high blood pressure, all middle-age and older adults and all blacks, should limit their intake to 1,500 mg per day.
Grains contributed the largest amount of sodium and calories, followed by meats, according to the study. The grains category included processed foods, which may be high in sodium, and foods eaten frequently, such as bread.
The authors of the survey added that the intake of sodium from meats was higher than might be expected, because the category includes processed meats such as lunch meat and sausage. Despite containing little sodium, vegetables were the third largest contributor, because the category contained vegetable-based soups, sauces and white potatoes, which included potato chips and fries, and canned vegetables.
“Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits,” said Janelle Peralez Gunn, public health analyst with the C.D.C.’s division for heart disease and stroke prevention. “Public health professionals, together with food manufacturers, retailers and health care providers, must take action now to help support people’s efforts to reduce their sodium consumption.”