Eat less salt, die sooner

Gary Taubes has an op-ed in the NYTimes,

four years ago, Italian researchers began publishing the results from a series of clinical trials, all of which reported that, among patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death.

Those trials have been followed by a slew of studies suggesting that reducing sodium to anything like what government policy refers to as a “safe upper limit” is likely to do more harm than good. These covered some 100,000 people in more than 30 countries and showed that salt consumption is remarkably stable among populations over time. In the United States, for instance, it has remained constant for the last 50 years, despite 40 years of the eat-less-salt message. The average salt intake in these populations — what could be called the normal salt intake — was one and a half teaspoons a day, almost 50 percent above what federal agencies consider a safe upper limit for healthy Americans under 50, and more than double what the policy advises for those who aren’t so young or healthy. This consistency, between populations and over time, suggests that how much salt we eat is determined by physiological demands, not diet choices.

One could still argue that all these people should reduce their salt intake to prevent hypertension, except for the fact that four of these studies — involving Type 1 diabetics, Type 2 diabetics, healthy Europeans and patients with chronic heart failure — reported that the people eating salt at the lower limit of normal were more likely to have heart disease than those eating smack in the middle of the normal range. Effectively what the 1972 paper would have predicted.

Are you listening, Nanny Bloomberg?

4 Responses to “Eat less salt, die sooner”

  1. Asher Abrams Says:

    But the great thing about all this government micromanagement is that it keeps us aware of who our betters are. Otherwise, people might get the idea to do their own research, do their own thinking, and follow – or ignore – any health advice they please.

    The thing is, it’s never as straightforward as an actual rationing plan. That might engender resistance. It’s always got to be something a little more covert – drink all the soda you want, but buy it in approved package sizes. The more subtle, the better. What is forbidden may once again become permitted; but regulation just breeds further regulation.

  2. Fausta Says:

    regulation just breeds further regulation
    Which in turns increases the size and scope of government.

  3. jlh Says:

    Without today’s version of science, we would not know that we should both avoid and drink coffee, anticipate both global warming and cooling, protect trees from carbon dioxide, eat no fats or carbohydrates, and never drink soda in New York City. Maybe Darwin had it backwards.

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