More Americans watching salt intake: survey

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — Although some critics claim Americans consume more salt than they should on a daily basis, recent data from Mintel shows consumers are starting to pay more attention to their salt intake.

In fact, more than half (52%) are monitoring the amount of sodium in their diets. What’s more, food product introductions containing a low-, no- or reduced-sodium claim have increased by approximately 115% from 2005 to 2008, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database.

The low-sodium change is picking up in energy, thanks to consumer awareness and the continued push from public health organizations and consumer advocacy groups, the study relays.

"The rapidly rising evidence in the past several years points out sodium as a major cause of hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney damage and stomach cancer," said David Lockwood, director of consumer insights at Mintel. "Because of this scientific knowledge mixed with that of global health activists, there is a climate forming for rapid change. We are starting to see this information set into motion with a reduction in sodium on packaged goods and restaurant menus."

When it comes to sodium usage, Mintel categorizes four main types of consumers:

  • Twenty-two percent restrict the amount of salt they add to food, but don't watch the much greater amount of sodium that is in foods and beverages.
  • Eighteen percent say "food and beverages low in sodium are one of the three most important components of a healthy diet".
  • Twenty-six percent read labels for sodium, and may make some decisions based on this info, but they are not following a regimen to control sodium in their diet.
  • Thirty-four percent do not pay attention to sodium.

Three out of four respondents who say they are on a sodium-restricted diet also claim they "do not miss the salt". Being able to cut back is critical, since 70% of over-75 women and 80% of over-75 men are currently on medication for hypertension, Mintel stated.

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