High sodium diets kill 1.6 mn people a year globally: Study

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Washington, Aug 14 (IANS) In a global analysis spanning across 187 countries, researchers have found that more than 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year are owing to high sodium consumption above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of two gram (2,000mg) per day.

“These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide. No world region and few countries were spared,” said lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

High sodium intake is known to increase blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke.

The researchers found the average level of global sodium consumption in 2010 to be 3.95 gram per day, nearly double the 2.0 gram recommended by the WHO.

All regions of the world were above recommended levels, with regional averages ranging from 2.18 gram per day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51 gram per day in Central Asia.

The findings were achieved after researchers analysed existing data from 205 surveys of sodium intake in countries representing nearly three-quarters of the world’s adult population.

They calculated sodium intakes worldwide by country, age, and sex.

“We found that four out of five global deaths attributable to higher than recommended sodium intakes occurred in middle- and low-income countries,” added John Powles from University of Cambridge.

Researchers also found that reduced sodium intake lowered blood pressure in all adults, with the largest effects identified among older individuals, blacks, and those with pre-existing high blood pressure.

“These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium across the world,” stressed Mozaffarian who led the research while at the Harvard University’s school of public health.

The findings appeared in the the New England Journal of Medicine.

Last modified: August 25, 2014

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