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Thursday, January 29, 2009

War on salt: it’s a good thing

Iread that New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has declared war on salt. The city’s plan is to get food manufacturers in the United States to agree to gradually start reducing salt contentsalt until it reaches a 50 per cent cut in 10 years. Apparently, this would take us back to the levels found during the 1970s.

Unlike many who feel that this sort of thing is turning NYC into a Nanny State, I see it as a good thing. What better way for a government to spend its time and our money than to protect our food safety? I hope someone on this side of the border is paying attention.

And who will be inconvenienced? Virtually every home and restaurant table has a salt shaker, so it can be added easily by those who want more. When food comes to the table already heavily salted, that’s it—you’re stuck and can’t get rid of it. Reducing salt at the source, so to speak, is a win-win: those who want to can avoid the health risk and others can add extra salt at the time of consumption

Over five million Canadians suffer from high blood pressure, known as hypertension. And high blood pressure kills.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading risk for death in the world (WHO Report 2002)

Canadians get twice as much sodium (one of the two major components of salt) on average in a day as is recommended—on a 2,000 calorie a day diet, the recommended maximum sodium is 2,400 mg. When sodium is high in the diet, it increases blood pressure. And high blood pressure is, of course, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. However, one in three Canadians with high blood pressure would have normal blood pressure with a healthy amount of sodium in their diets.

So why not a war on salt? I’m all for it.smleaf

5 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. You do not get it do you?

    What's next on your list of things we should ban or regulate?

    You are after all the one to decide for the rest of us, so please let us know what we can no longer eat, do, read, hear......

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  2. I agree.

    Too much processed food has so much salt it's nearly inedible. Most restaurant food, too, is heavily salted. The last Quarter Pounder with cheese that I ate (admittedly it's five years ago now) had so much salt on the patty it was actually gritty =\.

    Perhaps restaurants do it as a way to disguise the use of utility-grade ingredients. In any event, as you say if customers crave the stuff they can always reach for the shaker.

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  3. Anon, neither of us get to decide how much salt goes into food, the preparer does and I want to have some input through my government. If you want to risk your own health, go ahead: it's called a salt shaker.

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  4. How about YOU do not tell others what to put into their food or tell them how to prepare or manufacture it.

    Similar to what you said, go ahead, buy it or NOT, that is YOUR choice and it does not need to be regulated by the damn government when YOU ALREADY have the choice not to buy or eat it.

    Sometimes the simplest solution is the easiest, but I suspect you will not see it that way.

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  5. Agreed, Russ. I'm a medical student and people seriously don't realize that excessive salt intake kills people. Kills. We are dying because we are eating way too much salt for our own good. This sort of thing isn't a 'nanny-state' maneuver, it's a public health measure that will result in decreased morbidity and mortality as well as an increase in productivity due to less sick days. Less money will be spent on healthcare by New Yorkers as well, which is good for their pocketbook.

    I'm shocked by people who are opposed to this. People with heart conditions regularly go into congestive heart failure and die hours later because they had a Sunday dinner loaded down with salt (and washed down with a large volume of fluid for good measure).

    This is no different than banning smoking on a plane, it's a public health measure and a good one at that. I wish we were doing it here.

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