Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard School of Public Health, offered insight into the report itself, pointing out that the committee’s conclusions discounted effects of sodium reduction on blood pressure. Noting that direct evidence between sodium level and CVD events and mortality is limited in extent of available research studies, limited in quality, and contradictory, Dr. Sacks expressed dismay that the committee gave so much weight to such a problematical body of research, saying “Discounting the especially large blood pressure reduction going from 2,300 to 1,500 mg in prehypertensives, hypertensives, older adults and blacks who are especially vulnerable to the effects of high sodium betrays an unbalanced weighing of the evidence.” Additionally, the American Heart Association has meticulously reviewed scientific research and recommends that all Americans eat no more than 1,500 mg a day of sodium.
Dr. Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, also weighed in on the controversy to explain why The New York Times article should be, so to speak, taken with a grain of salt:
Kolata’s report (No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet, NYT, May 14, 2013) of the recent Institute of Medicine review of sodium and blood pressure is highly misleading. Kolata failed to mention that the primary conclusion of this review was that the US Dietary Guidelines goal of 2,300 mg of sodium per day is robustly supported by evidence. Because the current average intake is approximately 3,400 mg per day, current efforts to reduce sodium intake in our food supply are strongly justified. The report did conclude that evidence to reduce sodium intake further to 1,500 mg per day is insufficient. Although this conclusion is disputed by many, and additional research is desirable, it is not essential to resolve these disagreements until we get close to the 2,300 mg goal. This will take years of sustained effort.
Visit The Nutrition Source’s Salt and Sodium section to learn more.