Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Salt-Sodium / 13.02.2019 Interview with: Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Division of General Medicine, Section for Research Boston, MA  02215 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Lightheadedness with standing is an important risk factor for falls. Sodium is often considered a treatment for lightheadedness with standing. We examined this in the setting of a monitored feeding study where adults ate each of 3 different sodium levels for 4 weeks at a time. Participants took 5 day breaks between sodium levels and ate the sodium levels in random order. We tested the hypothesis that lowering sodium would worsen how much lightheadedness the study participants reported. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Salt-Sodium / 23.06.2018 Interview with: Salt-SodiumDr. Feng J He PhD Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London What is the background for this study? Response: Studies have shown that there is a strong linear relationship between sodium intake and blood pressure and raised blood pressure is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. The current mean population sodium intake among adults in most countries is approximately 4,000 mg/d (10 g/d salt). The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended a 30% reduction in sodium intake by 2025 with an eventual target of less than 2,000 mg/d (5 g/d salt) for all countries. Several recent cohort studies have challenged the WHO’s recommendations, as these studies suggested that there was a J or U-shaped relationship between sodium and risk, i.e. lower and higher sodium intake both were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and deaths. However, these studies have several severe methodological problems, one of which is the use of a biased or unreliable estimate of individual’s usual sodium intake, e.g. a single spot urine with the Kawasaki formula. Our study, for the first time, has compared the relationship of sodium intake and mortality, based on various methods to assess usual sodium intake, including estimates based on the Kawasaki formula (single and average of multiple days) and a single measured 24-hour urine, with the gold standard method, i.e. the average of multiple non-consecutive measured 24-h urines. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, Kidney Disease, Salt-Sodium / 11.02.2018 Interview with: Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045 What is the background for this study?   Response: Subtle impairments in cognition are common with aging, even in the absence of clinically apparent dementia. Mild hyponatremia is a common finding in older adults; however, the association of lower serum sodium with cognition in older adults is currently uncertain. We hypothesized that lower normal serum sodium would be associated with prevalent cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive decline over time in asymptomatic, community-dwelling older men. (more…)
Author Interviews, Salt-Sodium, University of Michigan / 23.10.2017 Interview with: Julia Wolfson, PhD MPP Assistant Professor Department of Health Management and Policy Department of Nutritional Sciences University of Michigan School of Public Health Ann Arbor, MI 48109 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past several years, Large chain restaurants in the United States have made some progress in introducing new lower calorie items on their menus. Since 2012, calories of items consistently on restaurant menus in all years have not significantly change. In this study, we examined the sodium content of restaurant menu items among 66 of the 100 largest restaurants in the US. We examined sodium content among items on the menu in all years (2012-2016) and among newly introduced items in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 compared to items on the menu in 2012 only. We found that sodium content of menu items on the menu in all years did not change, but that restaurants were introducing new, lower sodium menu items. However, sodium content of restaurant menu items remains high. This is important because diets high in sodium are associated with serious adverse health outcomes including hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Salt-Sodium / 05.06.2017 Interview with: 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Pediatrics, Salt-Sodium / 08.11.2016 Interview with: Zerleen S. Quader, MPH CDC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sodium reduction is considered a key public health strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease nationwide, and this study is the latest in ongoing CDC efforts to monitor U.S. sodium intake. Eating habits and taste for salt are established early in life by what children eat. Eating too much sodium can set them up for high blood pressure now and health problems later. Previous evidence suggests that one in nine children already has blood pressure above the normal range, and strong evidence has shown that reducing sodium intake reduces blood pressure – and lowering blood pressure lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease among adults. With voluntary efforts already underway by some manufacturers to lower the sodium and added sugar content in some of their products, these findings help provide a baseline to monitor changes in the food industry, as well as sodium intake among U.S. youth. We examined data from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to determine sodium intake by major food category, place and eating occasion. We found that average sodium intake among participants was 3,256 mg, and that doesn’t include salt added at the table. On the day of assessment, nearly 90 percent exceeded the upper level of sodium recommended for a healthy diet. • There were some variations based on age and gender. For example: o Average intake was highest among high school-aged children o Girls had significantly lower daily intake than boys (for example, 2,919 mg versus 3,584 mg) • In addition, we found that ten types of food make up nearly half of youth sodium intake nationwide, including pizza, bread, lunch meats and snack foods. We also analyzed where the foods were obtained and found that approximately 58 percent of sodium comes from store foods, 16 percent from fast food and pizza restaurants and 10 percent from school cafeteria foods. And when we looked at occasion, we discovered that 39 percent of sodium intake was consumed at dinner, 31 percent at lunch, 16 percent from snacks and 14 percent from breakfast. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, JACC, Salt-Sodium / 06.10.2016 Interview with: Nancy Cook ScD Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Professor in the Department of Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School Public Health Brigham & Women’s Hospital Division of Preventive Medicine Boston, MA 02215 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The association of sodium intake with later mortality has been controversial. While there is a well-accepted effect on blood pressure, the effects of sodium on later cardiovascular disease, and particularly mortality, have been subject to dispute. While the adverse effects of high sodium are now widely accepted, effects at lower levels of sodium intake are less clear. Some recent studies have found a J-shaped relationship, with increased disease rates among those consuming lower levels of sodium, contrary to the effects on blood pressure. In contrast, we found a direct linear relationship of usual intake of sodium with later mortality over 20 years of follow-up. Those with the lowest sodium intake experienced the lowest mortality. Our measure of intake was based on the average over 1-3 years of several measures of 24hr urine sodium excretion, the gold standard of sodium measurement. This is much more precise than measurements based on a single 24hr sodium excretion or especially on a spot urine sample, which is used in many publications that found the J-shaped curve. Our data were assessed in a healthy cohort of men and women without hypertension or cardiovascular disease, so had less potential bias due to these factors. We thus believe that our results showing the lowest mortality among those consuming the lowest levels of sodium are more accurate. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Nutrition, Pediatrics, Salt-Sodium / 19.03.2015

Joyce Maalouf MS MPH Nutrition Epidemiologist CDC, Interview with: Joyce Maalouf MS MPH Nutrition Epidemiologist CDC, Atlanta Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although significant research shows U.S. children are eating too much sodium, data on the top dietary sources contributing to that intake is limited – particularly among babies and toddlers. This study identifies the primary sources of dietary sodium consumed by children from birth to 24-months-old, as well as differences in intake and food source broken down by demographic characteristics including age, gender and race/ethnicity. Overall, our research revealed that after the age of six months, more than 70 percent of sodium intake comes from foods other than breast milk and infant formula. Commercial baby foods, soups and pasta mixed dishes are top sodium contributors for U.S. infants 6 to 11.9 months, while soups, cheese, pasta mixed dishes and frankfurters and sausages are key contributors among toddlers aged 12 up to 24 months. Top sodium sources varied by race/ethnicity within age groups, suggesting that for sodium reduction to be effective, it needs to occur across a wide variety of foods. In addition, we found that non-Hispanic black toddlers ate more sodium than non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American children. Average sodium intake increased almost 9-fold from children under six months to those between one and two-years-old, while average energy intake only doubled. This suggests that, during the first two years of life, U.S. children increasingly consume sodium-rich foods. To determine these findings, we examined eight years of data encompassing more than 2,900 participants between birth and two-years-old. The information was pulled from the nationwide NHANES What We Eat in America survey between 2003 and 2010. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, NIH, Salt-Sodium / 16.03.2015

Jaspreet Ahuja, Nutritionist USDA, Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Data Laboratory Beltsville, MD Interview with: Jaspreet Ahuja, Nutritionist USDA, Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Data Laboratory Beltsville, MD 20705 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most sodium in the U.S. diet comes from commercially processed and restaurant foods. Sodium reduction in these foods is key to several recent public health efforts. In this paper, we provide an overview of a program led by Nutrient Data Laboratory, USDA, in partnership with CDC and FDA to monitor sodium contents in commercially processed and restaurant foods in United States. We track about 125 highly consumed, sodium-contributing foods, termed “Sentinel Foods” annually using information from food manufacturers and periodically by nationwide sampling and laboratory analyses. In addition, we monitor over 1,100 other commercially processed and restaurant food items, termed “Priority-2 Foods,” biennially using information from food manufacturers. These foods serve as indicators for assessing changes in the sodium content of commercially processed and restaurant foods in the U.S. In addition to sodium, we are monitoring related nutrients (potassium, total dietary fiber, total and saturated fat, total sugar) because their levels may change when manufacturers and restaurants reformulate their products to reduce their sodium content. We sampled all Sentinel Foods nationwide and reviewed all Priority-2 Foods in 2010–2013 to determine baseline sodium concentrations. The results of sodium reduction efforts, based on re-sampling of the Sentinel Foods or re-review of P2Fs, will become available in 2015 on our website. The updated data are also released in USDA food composition databases, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, CDC, Salt-Sodium / 07.03.2015

Dr. Sandra L. Jackson, Ph.D., M.P.H Epidemic intelligence service fellow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, Interview with: Dr. Sandra L. Jackson, Ph.D., M.P.H Epidemic intelligence service fellow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, GA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Jackson: With more than 90 percent of U.S. adults exceeding recommended sodium intake levels, healthcare providers can play a key role in counseling patients on the importance of limiting salt in the diet. To assess the impact of medical advice on an individual’s efforts to reduce sodium intake, CDC researchers examined self-reported telephone survey information from nearly 174,000 U.S. adults. Overall, more than half of the respondents reported watching or reducing their sodium intake in 2013 – but less than one quarter (23 percent) said they received advice from a doctor or healthcare professional about sodium reduction. Of those that received the medical advice, 82 percent reported taking action to limit their sodium intake. In comparison, only 44 percent of respondents who reported not receiving medical advice said they took steps to reduce sodium. The substantial proportion of patients who are not receiving medical advice (77%), according to these findings, reveals a missed opportunity to reduce sodium intake, particularly among groups that have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This includes African Americans, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 25.11.2014 Interview with: Dr. Eloisa Colin-Ramirez, BSc, PhD and Justin A. Ezekowitz, MBBCh MSc Associate Professor, University of Alberta Co-Director, Canadian VIGOUR Centre Director, Heart Function Clinic Cardiologist, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The SODIUM-HF study is a randomized control trial on sodium restriction in patients with chronic heart failure (HF). Sodium restriction has been broadly recommended as part of the self-care strategies in heart failure yet is based on little high-quality evidence. This study reports the results of the pilot SODIUM-HF trial in 38 patients with chronic HF. Nineteen patients were prescribed a low sodium containing diet (1500 mg/day) and 19 a moderate sodium containing diet (2300 mg/day). Both interventions were based on a structured and individualized meal plan to achieve the targeted sodium intake, and all patients were followed for 6 months with monthly phone call to reinforce adherence to the diet. We found a meaningful reduction in sodium intake to less than 1500 mg/day at 6 months in both groups. Additionally, we observed that patients that achieved a sodium intake less than 1500 mg/day at 6 months of follow-up had reduced BNP levels, a biomarker of volume overload and surrogate prognostic marker in heart failure, and increased overall and clinical scores of the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, compared to those with a sodium intake greater than 1500 mg/day. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, NIH, Nutrition, Salt-Sodium / 03.04.2014 Interview with: Niels Graudal, MD, DrMSc Senior Consultant Department of Internal medicine/Infectious Medicine/Rheumatology IR4242 Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet Denmark Dr. Graudal: There are no studies, which show what happens with the risk of cardiovascular death or mortality if you change your sodium intake. Our study shows the association of sodium intake as it is with cardiovascular disease and mortality, which is only the second best way to consider the problem, but as the best way does not exist we have accepted this approach. There have been two different assumptions concerning the risks of sodium intake. One is that there is an increasing risk of heart disease, stroke and death of salt intake above 2300 mg, and one is that salt is not dangerous at all. Our study shows that both positions partially may be true, as a salt intake above 4900 mg is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, whereas the present normal salt intake of most of the world’s populations between 2300 mg and 4900 mg is not associated with any increased risks. In addition our study shows that a low sodium intake below 2300 mg is also associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Nutrition / 14.05.2013 eInterview with: Mary Scourboutakos PhD student at the University of Toronto Mary R. L'Abbe, PhD Earle W. McHenry Professor, and Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto FitzGerald Building, 150 College Street, Rm 315 Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E2 What are the main findings of the study? Answer: We found that chain restaurant meals on average contained half a day's worth of calories, almost a full day's worth of fat and saturated fat, and more than a day's worth of sodium. (more…)