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About half of nearly 200 000 US adults reported in a recent survey that they’re watching their salt intake or reducing it, but only 1 in 5 said a health professional advised them to cut back. The data are from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System telephone survey, which for the first time has provided state-level estimates of sodium intake among the general population.
Survey participants in 26 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico answered questions about sodium intake. The percentage of adults who said they’ve lowered their salt consumption ranged from 38.7% in Utah to 73.4% in Puerto Rico. Only 13.5% of participants in Minnesota said a health professional suggested they cut their sodium intake, compared with 41.4% in Puerto Rico (Fang J et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64:695-698).
The investigators noted that Puerto Rico residents may have fared well in sodium reduction because their hypertension rate is high—42.3% compared with 31.4% nationally. People living in the South, where the prevalence of hypertension also is high, were more likely to reduce salt intake than people residing in other US regions. In fact, in every jurisdiction surveyed, more people with hypertension acted to reduce their sodium consumption than those who didn’t have the condition.
However, 20% to 50% of survey participants with hypertension in various states reported doing nothing to cut back, and 38% to 68% said they hadn’t been counseled by a health professional to do so. Most adults without hypertension said they hadn’t cut back on sodium, nor had they been advised to do so.
The average daily sodium consumption is an estimated 3592 mg, much higher than the Healthy People 2020 target maximum of 2300 mg daily. “The data in this report highlight the opportunity to increase the proportion of health care professionals who advise their patients to reduce sodium intake and the proportion of US adults who take action to reduce sodium intake,” the investigators wrote.