Where’s the salt?

People across the globe are consuming far more sodium than is healthy, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Cambridge. In 181 of 187 countries (constituting 99.2% of the world adult population), national intakes exceeded the World Health Organization recommendation of less than 2 grams of sodium per day. In 119 countries (88.3% of the world’s adult population), the national intake of sodium exceeded this amount by more than 1 gram per day. The study is the first to estimate country-specific sodium intake.

Sodium intake was highest in East and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The United States population averaged 3.6 grams of sodium per day. Excess sodium is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and increases the risk of stomach cancer, a leading fatal cancer worldwide. According to the authors, virtually all populations would benefit from sodium reduction. The study was published online on December 23, 2013, in BMJ Open.

Age-standardized estimated sodium intake (g/day) in 2010 for persons aged 20 and over

Lowest sodium consumption

Jamaica 1.92
Burundi 1.73
Comoros 1.67
Malawi 1.66
Rwanda 1.60

Highest sodium consumption

Kazakhstan 5.98
Turkmenistan 5.43
Bahrain 5.38
Kyrgyzstan 5.38
Georgia 5.30

Salt intake world map

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