Voluntary reductions in sodium levels in both US processed, quick-service restaurant foods inconsistent, slow, according to new study; processed foods show 3.5% decline between 2005 and 2011, fast foods show 2.6% increase

May 13, 2013 (press release) – A study by Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C., and colleagues suggest voluntary reductions in sodium levels in processed and restaurant foods is inconsistent and slow. (Online First)

The study measured the sodium content in selected processed foods and fast-food restaurant foods in 2005, 2008, and 2011. Between 2005 and 2011, the sodium content in 402 processed foods declined by approximately 3.5 percent, while the sodium content in 78 fast-food restaurant products increased by 2.6 percent. Although some products showed decreases of at least 30 percent, a greater number of products showed increases of at least 30 percent. The predominant finding is the absence of any appreciable or statistically significant changes in sodium content during six years.

“Stronger action (e.g. phased-in limits on sodium levels set by the federal government) is needed to lower sodium levels and reduce the prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease,” the study concludes.

(JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 13, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6154. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

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