Majority of consumers not concerned about sodium

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON – Fifty-nine per cent of Americans said they were not concerned about their sodium intake in the 2011 International Food Information Council Sodium Survey. The percentage was consistent with the I.F.I.C.’s 2009 sodium survey findings. In addition, 70% of Americans in the survey said they do not know how much sodium they should consume in a day.

“With all the attention sodium has received in the last few years, including in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s surprising that Americans are still not well aware of sodium guidelines,” said Marianne Smith Edge, senior vice-president of nutrition and food safety for I.F.I.C. “Particularly for the at-risk populations, such as those with high blood pressure, these results show there’s a great educational opportunity available to highlight the variety of ways to manage blood pressure.”

The survey, which randomly sampled 1,003 adults, found 56% of people with high blood pressure did not know how much sodium they should consume in a day or overestimated the amount.

When prompted, 50% to 63% of people in the study said they were interested in topics regarding recommended intakes, food sources and health impacts. When asked where they want information on sodium primarily to come from, they said the medical community (55%), the food label (46%), the government (31%) and food manufacturers (30%). About four in 10 survey respondents said taste will suffer if they limit sodium intake.

When asked to rate the three most important elements of a healthful diet, the respondents ranked fruits and vegetables, at 70%, as the top choice. Limiting sodium was ranked as one of the most important factors by 38%.

“Because there are a variety of factors and approaches that go into building a healthful diet, it’s not surprising that limiting sodium is trumped by other dietary factors,” Ms. Smith Edge said. “It is clear Americans understand positive messages that involve foods versus just nutrients – like eat more fruits and vegetables – as a good way to consume less sodium and more potassium.”

The complete survey is available by visiting www.foodinsight.org.

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