Salt Intake From Packaged Foods Decreasing But Still Too High Interview with:

Jennifer Poti, PhD Research Assistant Professor Nutritional Epidemiology Gillings School of Global Public Health University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Poti

Jennifer Poti, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Nutritional Epidemiology
Gillings School of Global Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill What is the background for this study?

Response: Although strong evidence links excessive sodium intake to hypertension, a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the majority of American children and adults have sodium intake that exceeds the recommended upper limit for daily sodium intake.

To lower sodium intake at the population-level, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that reducing sodium in packaged foods will be essential and has emphasized the need to monitor sodium in the US food supply. However, little is known about whether sodium in packaged foods has changed during the past 15 years. What are the main findings?

Response: In a nationwide study of over 170,000 US households that used barcode scanners to record all packaged foods and beverages purchased throughout the year from grocery stores and other retail food stores, we found that the amount of sodium that US households obtained from packaged foods and beverages decreased significantly between the years 2000 and 2014.

Likewise, the sodium content of packaged food purchases decreased by 12% for foods overall and decreased significantly for all top sources of sodium (such as condiments and sauces, mixed dishes, salty snacks, and bread) during the past 15 years. Optimal sodium density of ≤1.1 mg/kcal is recommended; although we found that sodium density of purchases decreased in the past 15 years, less than 2% of households had total food and beverage purchases with optimal sodium density. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings suggest that US households are getting less sodium from the grocery store than they did 15 years ago, yet sodium levels in packaged foods are still too high – almost all households (over 98%) have total food and beverage purchases with excessive sodium density. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We are currently conducting further studies to examine these sodium trends by race/ethnicity and income, to see whether declines in sodium are reaching vulnerable populations at higher risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease, particularly non-Hispanic black households and low-income households. Importantly, further studies are needed to determine whether these reductions in sodium purchased translate to reduction in sodium intake – and to do this, we need to use up-to-date data on the amount of sodium in packaged foods when we estimate how much sodium Americans are consuming. Further research is also needed to determine whether decreases in sodium in packaged foods are offset by increases in sodium from fast food and restaurants.

Disclosures: This research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Poti JM, Dunford EK, Popkin BM. Sodium Reduction in US Households’ Packaged Food and Beverage Purchases, 2000 to 2014. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 05, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1407


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Last Updated on June 5, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD