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Step away from the sodium, CDC says
Nine out of 10 Americans consume dangerously high levels of sodium, putting them at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, the CDC warns in a new report. - photo by Jennifer Graham
The pizza, the salami sub, the cheese-covered tater tots theyve got to go, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

In a new report on the nation's sodium intake, the CDC said 90 percent of children eat too much sodium and that doesnt even include the salt they sprinkle on their food at the family dinner table.

The grownups do only marginally better. Eighty-nine percent of American adults exceed the limits recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That puts them at risk for high blood pressure and other health problems, including heart disease and stroke, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the governments dietary guidelines, Americans should eat no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, which amounts to about one teaspoon of salt. But nine out of 10 of us eat more than 3,300 milligrams a day.

Helpfully, the CDC spelled out a solution: Reducing sodium in manufactured and restaurant foods will give consumers more choice and save lives, Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC director, said in a news release.

Thats where the pizza, the salami and the chili-cheese tater tots come in.

They are among the saltiest fast foods, according to a report last year by Fox News. Fox salt-shamed Pizza Hut, Subway and Sonic, among others, for offerings that exceed the amount of sodium that an adult should consume all day.

If food companies and restaurants would voluntarily reduce sodium in their products, Americans would be healthier, the CDC said, noting that three-quarters of high-sodium food in the American diet comes from processed or restaurant food.

This is part of the problem, since its often difficult, if not impossible, to find out how much sodium is in food prepared by others. The International Business Times, citing a survey by the American Heart Association, said a 2014 survey of 1,000 people found that 97 percent underestimated or couldnt even guess how much sodium they consumed in a given day.

And foods that might seem healthy for example, a cup of chicken soup might have nearly half of a day's recommended allotment of sodium, the IBT reported.

The CDC bemoaned the lack of improvement in sodium consumption despite years of warning from health professionals and much publicized efforts to reduce sodium consumption. Some food companies market lower-sodium products, like Ritz Crackers and Jif Peanut Butter, and New York City, as of December, requires chain restaurants to put warnings on menus to advise diners of high-sodium items. But overall consumption hasn't changed in more than a decade, the CDC said.

And even the third of Americans who have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure have been unwilling to put down the pizza: 86 percent of them still consume too much sodium, despite their heightened risk, the report said.
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