Updated 01/31/2011 06:56 PM
Feds Tell Americans To Cut The Salt
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The government is telling Americans to cut out the salt as part of new dietary guidelines released Monday.
As it is required to do every five years, the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture health has announced the new guidelines in an effort to reduce chronic diseases and obesity.
Three-fourths of women and two-thirds of men in this country are now considered overweight or obese. And young people are not exempt, as child obesity rates have tripled in the past decade.
The new guidelines still emphasize limiting calorie intake to control body weight, along with consuming more nutrient-rich foods and beverages for overall health.
Key points once again include cutting down on trans fats, eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and taking in less sugar and fat.
One of the key areas health experts were expecting a major change was in the recommended salt levels.
The recommendation is that Americans should reduce their daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams, about a teaspoon of salt a day. Those aged 51 and older, black Americans of any age, or those who suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should cut salt to about 1,500 milligrams a day.
However, it can be awfully hard to figure out just how much salt people are ingesting from all the packaged and processed foods they eat every day. Nutritionists point out those updated guidelines are not extremely different from what was issued in 2005.
“I would have loved to have seen the USDA and Health and Human Services be a little more aggressive, especially with obesity being on the rise,” said registered dietician Keri Glassman, the author of "The O2 Diet." “I would have liked to have seen them take a more aggressive stance with some more specific recommendations and then given people some tools to implement those recommendations better.”
"The changes aren't that big of a difference. But the big thing to note is over half of the population falls into that category that needs to limit it to less than 1500 milligrams," said registered dietician Jessica Fishman Levinson, the founder of Nutritioulicious.
During Monday's announcement, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted to never looking at U.S. dietary guidelines before he took that role. It is one indication of how confusing these guidelines can be for Americans.