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Dietary sodium

Salt intake linked to obesity, say Finnish scientists

Friday, November 10, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: dietary sodium, salt intake, hypertension

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(NewsTarget) Research from scientists in Finland -- which was just recently published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases -- could increase pressure on the food industry to reduce salt content in a wide range of foods. The researchers found that salt intake reduction helps combat obesity.

Study authors Dr. Heikki Karppanen of the University of Helsinki and Dr. Eero Mervaala of the University of Kuopio performed and published the study, saying that "The increased intake in salt has apparently played an important role in the increase in the consumption of soft drinks and, hence, also in the increase in energy intake." The study went on to add that "Higher consumption of sweetened beverages was associated with both a greater magnitude of weight gain and an increase risk for development of type-2 diabetes."

According to the study, 64 percent of the adult population of the U.S. is now considered obese, with 16 percent of American children obese as well. Obesity has been repeatedly linked with an increased risk of certain health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

The two doctors who authored this study looked at their home country of Finland and determined that in the population under 65 years of age, an average 30 to 35 percent reduction in salt intake during 30 years in Finland was associated with a 75 to 80 percent decrease in both stroke and coronary heart disease mortality.

The doctors also reported that life expectancy of both male and female Finnish citizens increased by six to seven years during the same period. To support the study, the researchers noted that numerous scientists are convinced that high salt intake is responsible for increasing blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension.

Scientists also report that in the United States, the average salt intake per person since the mid-1980s has increased from an average of 10.2 grams per day per person to more than 15 grams per day per person -- a 55 percent increase per person.

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