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May 19, 2010

Public Policy and Dietary Sodium Restriction

JAMA. 2010;303(19):1916-1918. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.587

To the Editor: In his Commentary, Dr Alderman1 sounded a note of caution regarding a push within the public health community to put all US residents on a low-salt diet.2 A recent analysis3 may help inform the decades-old debate about salt intake and health. The study analyzed 24-hour urinary sodium collections from 62 published government surveys collected between 1982 and 2008, comprising 19 151 participants in 33 countries. It found a remarkably narrow range of sodium intake worldwide (mean, 3726 mg/d; 95% confidence interval, 2691-4876 mg/d; to convert from mg to mmol, divide by 23). The diversity of the food environment of these countries and the 3 decades over which the data were collected make it unlikely that this is a random finding.