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Medical News & Perspectives
June 9, 2010

IOM Recommends Federal Regulation Over the Salt Content of Certain Foods

JAMA. 2010;303(22):2238-2240. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.723

The federal government appears poised to oversee reductions in the sodium content of certain foods, an action aimed at lowering the public's risk of hypertension and its associated morbidities and mortality and consequently curbing health care costs. But some warn that such regulation would amount to an experiment involving more than 300 million individuals for which the outcome is far from certain.

At issue is a report, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States, from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recommending that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set standards for the salt content of processed and restaurant foods (http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Strategies-to-Reduce-Sodium-Intake-in-the-United-States.aspx). The IOM recommendations came at the request of Congress, which charged the institute with developing strategies to reduce the population's intake of sodium to levels consistent with the US government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans (http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/). These guidelines call for a daily sodium intake of no more than 2300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt); adequate daily intake is set at 1500 mg and is even lower for those more than 50 years of age.