"It's alarming that young Swedish men are consuming so much salt, and something needs to be done about it. We can really only speculate on the consequences of such a high salt intake later on in life, in the form of cardiovascular diseases and stroke," says Lena Hulthén, Professor in Clinical Nutrition at the Sahlgrenska Academy.
The study included almost a hundred men in their twenties. Urine samples from all participants were analysed over a 24-hour period. The participants also answered questions about their eating habits. The urine samples showed that the young men were consuming at least two times the World Health Organisation's recommended daily intake of six grams.
"High salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, but we couldn't detect any connection in our study. High blood pressure doesn't usually develop until a person is in their 30s or 40s, since the kidneys' ability to deal with the excess salt deteriorates with age," says Lena Hulthén.
Salt in food is found largely in ready meals such as pizza and frozen meat hash, but it is also in bread, cheese, meat sandwich fillings, fish products, breakfast cereals and other products produced by the food industry. An earlier Danish study has shown that only a tenth of the salt that we consume comes from our own salt cellars.
"The food industry needs clear regulations on how much salt it is allowed to use if we want to reduce total salt intake. One solution could be to follow Finland's example, where all food packaging has to clearly state the salt content to make it easier for the consumer to select products containing less salt," says Lena Hulthén.SALT IN FOOD
Public Health Nutr 2009 Dec 8: 1-5. [Epub ahead of print]
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