Is the U.S. Government’s Sodium Reduction Policy Based Upon “The Biggest Delusion in the History of Preventive Medicine?" Strong Comments Echo Concerns of Salt Institute

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Medical researchers, business people, chefs and concerned citizens tell the FDA to drop its salt reduction scheme. The Salt Institute says the passionate response shows public wants no federal action on salt, an essential nutrient needed for good health.

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Science shows salt is good for your health.

The researchers bluntly warn the FDA that if the federal agency continues to push for population-wide reduction in salt consumption its recommendations may kill people instead of saving them.

After conducting one of the most exhaustive studies ever on the health impact of salt, two leading medical researchers have told the Food and Drug Administration that “the question of sodium reduction may be the biggest delusion in the history of preventive medicine.” What’s more, the researchers bluntly warn the FDA that if the federal agency continues to push for population-wide reduction in salt consumption its “recommendations may kill people instead of saving them.”

The written comments by Niels Graudal and Gesche Jürgens, medical researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, are among hundreds sent to the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) urging the federal agencies to not restrict U.S. salt consumption. The agencies requested public comments by Jan. 27 on the topic of “Approaches to Reducing Sodium Consumption.”

Comments published on, a federal government website, support no federal action on salt by a 9-to-1 ratio. A sampling of those comments can be found here.

“Medical researchers, physicians, nurses, trade associations, business people, chefs, concerned citizens and others have spoken out clearly and forcefully against the government’s agenda to put this country on a bland, low-salt diet that would do us more harm than good,” said Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute. “The public and researchers are on the side of salt.”

“Unfortunately, Washington bureaucrats and a few anti-salt activists have invested so much of their professional reputations on their anti-salt dogma that no amount of scientific evidence can deter them from their zeal to regulate.”

Graudal and Jürgens did a 2011 meta-analysis of 167 previous studies on salt, one of the most exhaustive reviews to date. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Hypertension and the prestigious Cochrane Library journal. In all, six 2011 medical studies vindicated salt’s impact on health while pointing out the risks of low-salt diets, including:

Type 1 Diabetes risk: In a study on patients with type 1 diabetes, low sodium intake was independently associated with all cause mortality and ESRD (end-stage renal disease).

Type 2 Diabetes risk: In an Australian study with type 2 diabetes patients, lower sodium was associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

No benefit to salt reduction: A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed eating less salt will not prevent heart attacks, strokes or early death. On the contrary, low-sodium diets increase likelihood of premature death.

Risk of death: A multi-year study on a very large cohort concluded that lower salt intakes resulted in higher morbidity and mortality.

Negative effects of low-salt intakes: An analysis of 167 studies showed individuals placed on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines-recommended salt levels experienced significant increases in plasma renin, aldosterone, adrenaline, and noradrenalin, cholesterol and triglycerides – all risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Risk of current U.S. Dietary Guidelines: An analysis of almost 29,000 adults published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examining the association between estimated sodium intakes and cardiovascular events, showed that CV risk was increased among those with the lowest levels equivalent to the current recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines.

In comments posted on the government’s website, Graudal and Jürgens told the FDA “that the `science’ on which the FDA policy on sodium reduction is based is dubious. This truth is already unmistakable now for most interested scientists and sooner or later it will be clear also to laymen. When this happens there will be responsible persons who would have a problem as the present recommendations may kill people instead of saving them. We therefore suggest that FDA, instead of considering how to reduce the sodium intake in the population, reconsiders the policy.”

ABOUT THE SALT INSTITUTE: The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.

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Mark O'Keefe, communications director
Salt Institute
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