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3 in 4 People Worldwide Eat Almost Double the Recommended Amount of Salt Every Day

Update Date: Mar 21, 2013 01:01 PM EDT

New research suggests an overwhelming 75 percent of the world's population consumes twice the daily recommended amount of salt.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,000 mg a day and the American Heart Association, who conducted the latest study, recommends limiting sodium to less than 1,500 mg a day. 

However, a new study presented at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2013 Scientific Sessions, found that global sodium intake from commercially prepared food, table salt, salt in soy sauce added during cooking averaged nearly 4,000 mg a day in 2010.

"This study is the first time that information about sodium intake by country, age and gender is available," lead author Dr. Saman Fahimi, a visiting scientist in the Harvard School of Public Health's epidemiology department in Boston, Mass., said in a statement.

"We hope our findings will influence national governments to develop public health interventions to lower sodium," he said.

Too much salt intake raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is one of the major contributors to the development of cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the world.

The study found that average sodium intake exceeded healthy levels in almost all counties, with Kazakhstan taking the title for the highest average sodium intake at 6,000 mg per day, followed by Mauritius and Uzbekistan at just less than 6,000 mg per day.

Nations with the lowest average salt intake include Kenya and Malawi at about 2,000 mg per day.

The U.S. salt consumption fell in the middle, with an average intake of about 3,600 mg a day.

The latest study found that 181 of the 187 counties in the world or 99 percent of the world's population exceeded the WHO's recommended sodium intake of less than 2,000 mg a day. Around 88 percent or 119 counties exceeded the WHO's recommendation by more than 1,000 mg a day.  Researchers noted that all countries except Kenya exceeded the American Heart Association recommended sodium intake of less than 1,500 mg a day.

A recent study published in February in the journal Hypertension revealed that reducing the U.S. salt intake by about 40 percent to 2,200 mg a day could save 280,000 to 500,000 American lives over the next decade. 

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