All generations consuming too much sodium

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — All generations are consuming more than the recommended daily sodium intake suggested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its dietary guidelines, according to a new report from The NPD Group, a market research company. The guidelines suggest daily sodium intake of 2,300 mg for the average person, and 1,500 mg for individuals over the age of 50.

Among the generations surveyed by NPD, seniors, born before 1946, and older boomers, born 1946 to 1955, are on average consuming 2,912 mg and 3,199 mg of sodium daily, respectively. While still above the dietary guidelines, these are the lowest levels seen among the generations tracked by NPD. And while these age groups tend to have a higher incidence of high blood pressure and other heart-health related issues, NPD said they also commonly check nutrition labels for sodium levels in the products they buy.

Younger boomers, those individuals born between 1956 and 1964, are not adopting the same behaviors as seniors and older boomers in terms of sodium intake, consuming an average of 3,280 mg of sodium daily, NPD said. During the next 10 years, the young boomers group will be over the age of 55 and may then have many of the same heart-related issues the older age groups have now and likely will become more concerned about sodium, NPD said.

The final group, millennials, consists of adults primarily in their 20s. According to NPD, this group consumes the most sodium — on average 3,485 mg of sodium per day — and also has the fewest health concerns and the most relaxed attitude toward sodium intake.

“The challenges in getting Americans closer to the guidelines are multi-faceted,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage analyst at NPD and author of the sodium report. “Salt is an important ingredient in making foods taste good. Simply removing sodium from foods and/or beverages will likely be met with consumer resistance. In addition, eating habits are difficult to change. We tend to change our habits when there is a present need, such as a medical condition, as opposed to eating right for the long term. Offering popular foods and beverages with lower sodium, while maintaining their taste profiles, is a good start in shifting current sodium consumption behavior.”

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