Salt levels in processed and fast food still `dangerously` high

Washington: Despite calls from public and health agencies for the food industry to voluntarily reduce sodium levels, a study has found that the processed food and fast food still have dangerously high salt levels.

The new Northwestern Medicine study conducted with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, assessed that the sodium content in selected processed foods and in fast-food restaurants in 2005, 2008 and 20011.

The study found that between 2005 and 2011, the sodium content in 402 processed foods went down by about 3.5 percent, while the sodium content in 78 fast-food restaurant products went up 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.

Stephen Havas, M.D., corresponding author of the paper and a research professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that the voluntary approach has failed.

He said that the issue will not go away till the government steps in to protect the public, asserting that the amount of sodium in our food supply needs to be regulated.

Havas said that high salt content in food benefits the food industry, as they mask the flavour of ingredients that are often not of best quality and also stimulate people to drink more soda and alcohol that the industry profits from.

He added that the only way for most people to meet the current sodium recommendation is to cook from scratch and not use salt.

The study has been published in JAMA Internal Medicine.


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