Sodium in Packaged Foods—12% Decrease Over 15 Years

The sodium content of packaged foods and beverages purchased by Americans has decreased substantially over the past several years, reports a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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In the 2000–2014 Nielsen Home- scan Consumer Panel, a nationally representative sample of 172,042 US households used a barcode scanner to report all packaged food purchases. The researchers examined trends in the sodium content of purchased foods, and in the percentage of households buying products with optimal sodium density (1.1 mg/kcal or less).

During the period studied, the amount of sodium obtained from packaged foods and beverages decreased by 396 mg/d—from 2363 to 1967 mg/d. Sodium from packaged foods (as opposed to beverages) decreased by 260 mg/d while table salt purchases decreased by 111 mg/d.

The sodium content of packaged food purchases decreased by 12% (49 mg/100 g), with reductions starting in 2005 and continuing through 2014. The reductions were significant in all the most important sources of sodium, including condiments, sauces, and dips (by 114 mg/100 g) and salty snacks (by 142 mg/100 g). The percentage of US households with optimal sodium density in total food purchases remained very low, but increased from 0.6% to 1.2%.

Reduction in the sodium content of packaged foods is an essential recommendation to reduce excessive sodium intake. Reflecting voluntary initiatives by food manufacturers, this study finds a 12% reduction in the sodium content of packaged foods and beverages purchased by US households. The continued high rate of excessive sodium density highlights the need for “more concerted” sodium reduction efforts [Poti JM, et al. Sodium reduction in US households’ packaged food and beverage purchases, 2000 to 2014. JAMA Internal Med 2017; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1407].

July 2017 (Vol. 9, Number 6)