Consumers remain confused about sodium intake

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Research released by DSM Food Specialties during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo highlights how confused consumers are about the amount of sodium they are consuming. The study, which included 5,000 responses from consumers in Brazil, China, Poland, Nigeria and the United States, showed that almost 50% of urban consumers believe they eat less than 5 grams of salt per day.

The survey showed U.S. consumers believe they eat the largest amount of salt with more than 61% believing they consume 10 or more grams per day, which is twice the recommended amount. Nigerian consumers think they eat the least amount with 65% reporting that they eat less than 5 grams per day.

Other salt consumption studies around the world have shown that people are likely to consume as much as three times the recommended daily amount. A 2012 report released by the European Commission showed that men and women in Europe generally consume anywhere from 6 to 18 grams of salt daily. In the United States, research presented at the American Society of Nutrition and Experimental Biology Conference in Boston indicated that the salt intake of American consumers increased 63 mg per day every two years between 2001 and 2010.

A majority of consumers participating in the DSM survey said they would be willing to lose some of the flavor in foods that they typically prepare and eat if they knew that it would improve their health. Consumers living in China were the most willing to make the change while U.S. consumers were the least willing.

“The survey results confirm that we cannot assume that consumers can make accurate judgments about the amount of salt in foods they consume,” said Dennis Rijnders, business manager for savory ingredients and yeast extracts for DSM Food Specialties. “Taste, convenience and price are more likely to be given as reasons to purchase foods again. Coupling great taste with health benefits such as reduced sodium is the best way forward in driving repeat purchases.”
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