FDA sets new voluntary guidelines on sodium to reduce risk of disease

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking new action to address preventable chronic diseases, and it all comes down to sodium.

“Who knows what’s in our food anymore? I think sodium is the least of what we have to worry about today,” said Luis Bellow of Dickson City.

The majority of sodium consumers eat comes from processed, packaged, and prepared foods, not from the salt shaker on the kitchen table. This can make it hard to control how much sodium consumers are really eating.

The FDA is releasing new guidelines to put in place. Short-term sodium reduction targets for food manufacturers, restaurants, and foodservice operators.

Jason Woloski, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Geisinger says the public needs to understand just how important reducing sodium intake is.

“We have to stop the conversation of just being about blood pressure. What we should be saying is lowering your sodium is going to decrease your risk of stroke. It’s going to decrease your risk of non-fatal heart attacks, it’s going to decrease your risk of vascular issues. I think that’s what makes this new recommendation so important because we know it’s much more than blood pressure,” Woloski explained.

The main goal of this new guideline is to reduce the average sodium intake by about 12 percent over the next two and a half years. As it stands now, the average American consumes nearly 50 percent more than the recommended sodium intake for people 14 years and older.

“I think it’s a great starting place. It’s not a cure. It’s not an end-all, be-all. But it’s a great way for us as Americans to take a little bit of a step back from our sodium intake,” said Woloski

When it comes to getting your food at restaurants or pre-packaged meals at the grocery store, this new guidance remains voluntary.

Next, the FDA will monitor the sodium content of the food supply, checking in on its progress toward achieving the targets set in place.

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