Senator Harkin’s “HeLP America Act” Wrong on Salt Reduction

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Salt Institute cites research against sodium reduction efforts.

Salt Institute logo

Salt Institute logo

"The evidence clearly shows that the FDA is pursuing a flawed agenda in favor of sodium reduction,” said Salt Institute President Lori Roman.

Legislation recently introduced by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the "Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention America Act" (HeLP America Act), threatens to endanger the public’s health by placing legal limits on the amount of sodium food producers can use according to the Salt Institute.

This legislation calls for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue mandatory regulations reducing the sodium content, or salt, in processed and restaurant foods. However, the negative impacts of salt reduction, particularly in relation to diabetes, congestive heart failure, cognition and dehydration would be severe according to multiple peer reviewed scientific and medical studies.

Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the level of salt consumption recommended by the FDA leads to increased incidence of stroke, heart attack and death. A Harvard study linked low-salt diets to an immediate onset of insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. And a study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that people on low-salt diets developed higher levels of renin, cholesterol and triglycerides. Low salt diets can be especially harmful for the elderly resulting in more falls and broken hips and a decrease in cognitive abilities.

In a new public health policy paper, researchers at Columbia University, led by Ronald Bayer Director of Columbia University’s Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, for the first time accused officials of concealing scientific uncertainty on the health effects of salt reduction in order to advance a political agenda.

The FDA recently requested comments from the public on the issue of mandatory salt reduction regulations and the comments received, including many from medical and scientific researchers, were 9 to 1 against such an action.

“We would not like to see a repeat of the hormone replacement therapy disaster. Senator Harkin and his staff should take more time to review the research on salt before pursuing legislation or recommendations that will actually cause harm to the health of Americans. The evidence clearly shows that the FDA is pursuing a flawed agenda in favor of sodium reduction,” said Salt Institute President Lori Roman.

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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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Morton Satin
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