Nearly 1.65 Million People Die Every Year Due to Excessive Salt Intake

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By Sarah Thomas | August 18, 2014 10:47 AM EST

Recent study has found that an essential ingredient in all the worlds' cuisine causes 1.65 million deaths every year across the globe. A published study in New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, found that an average consumed salt (sodium) per day is twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization. A 3.95 gm consumption per day beyond the recommended amount of 2 gm.

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A man collects sea salt from a field in Thailand's Samut Songkhram province, about 80 km (50 miles) south of Bangkok January 17, 2008. The salt, which is collected after sea water is evaporated, is used for human consumption. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Tufts University, led the research while at Harvard School of Public Health and explained the consequence of high sodium intake. It causes an increase in blood pressure, which is the key factor that contributes to cardio vascular diseases and stroke. "However, the effects of excessive sodium intake on cardiovascular diseases globally by age, sex, and nation has not been well established", he stated.

They already collected existing data on sodium intake across various countries around the world. The data from 205 surveys calculated sodium intakes according to different countries, age groups and genders. The results of data analysis were combined with the findings of cardio vascular diseases rate around the world. This was done as a means to correlate the number of cardio vascular deaths due to sodium consumption above 2 gm per day.

Mozaffarian pointed that 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all death causes worldwide from cardiovascular diseases. No world region and few countries were spared. Mozaffarian chairs Global Burden of Diseases, Nutrition, and Chronic Disease Expert Group, an international team composed of more than 100 scientists studying the effects of nutrition on health and who contributed to this effort. "These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world," he informed.

They found out that the average consumption per day was highest in Central Asia, with a consumption rate of 5.51 gm per day. From their studies, they also found that a reduced sodium intake can cause reduced blood pressure, largely among adults, individuals with dark skin color and those already suffering from high blood pressure. In the United States, 58,000 cardiovascular deaths occurred due to an excessive sodium intake. Their consumption rate has an average of 3.6 gm per day.

John Powles, M.B., B.S., last author and honorary senior visiting fellow associate in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge stated, "We found that four out of five global deaths due to higher than recommended sodium intakes occurred in middle- and low-income countries." He suggested programs to reduce sodium intake that will help reduce premature deaths in adults worldwide.

The study has its own limitations, as they had studied urine samples that does not give a clear picture of true sodium intake. Some countries does not contain data on sodium comsumption, the estimation however, was made based on the nutritional information.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A man collects sea salt from a field in Thailand's Samut Songkhram province, about 80 km (50 miles) south of Bangkok January 17, 2008. The salt, which is collected after sea water is evaporated, is used for human consumption. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)
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