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Sodium Overload

Study shows Americans are ready to pass on the salt

Americans consume too much sodium. In fact, the average daily intake among individuals aged 2 years and older in the U.S. is 3,500 mg per day, significantly higher than the recommended daily maximum of 2,300 mg – and that doesn’t even include salt at the table. However, according to a recent MMWR, more than half of Americans now report watching or reducing the amount of sodium in their diets.

Excess sodium intake and health - One in three U.S. adults – or about 70 million people – have high blood pressure and only half have it under control. Excess sodium intake is a major risk factor for hypertension, and subsequently, heart disease and stroke, the first and fifth leading causes of U.S. deaths.

Translating awareness into practice – Healthcare professionals play a key role in motivating patients, both with and without high blood pressure, to reduce salt in their diet. New research shows that adults who received sodium-related medical advice took steps to limit their intake.

Sodium in the food supply – The problem isn’t the salt shaker at the dinner table. More than three quarters of sodium in the American diet is estimated to come from processed and restaurant food, giving consumers little choice when it comes to lowering daily intake. Sodium is also found in products that a consumer might not consider “salty,” such as bread, pasta and cereal. A recent CDC study examined sodium concentration between top brands of specific foods – and the findings indicate sodium reduction is feasible. In fact, some food manufacturers are taking steps to voluntarily reduce sodium in their products.

For more information on the report or tips on reducing sodium, visit For low-sodium, heart-healthy recipes and meal plans, visit

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286


Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH


Photo: Dr Thomas Frieden

"The science is clear - reducing salt lowers blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As a nation, we can do much more to protect the heart health of Americans. Even small decreases in sodium intake could save tens of thousands of lives each year."

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Barbara A. Bowman, PhD

Barbara A. Bowman, PhD


Barbara A. Bowman, PhD

"It will take a collective effort – one that includes individuals; medical professionals; communities; and places that sell, make or serve food – to really improve heart health nationwide. Healthcare providers are making a difference by working with patients on sodium reduction, and some food companies are voluntarily reducing sodium in their products."

Barbara A. Bowman, PhD - Director, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

Mary E. Cogswell, DrPH, RN

Mary E. Cogswell, DrPH, RN


Mary E. Cogswell, PhD

"About 90 percent of U.S. adults eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. This study shows the public’s interest in reducing sodium in their diets, as well as opportunities for healthcare professionals to advise patients on limiting dietary sodium."

Mary E. Cogswell, DrPH, RN - Senior scientist, Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

Related Links

Scientific Journals


  • Easy on the Salt
    Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in the U.S., and they have one major risk behavior in common: excessive consumption of sodium. In this podcast, Dr. Erika Odom discusses the importance of a low-sodium diet.
  • Too Much Sodium
    Ninety percent of Americans age 2 and older eat too much sodium, which can increase the risk for high blood pressure and often leads to heart disease and stroke. Learn several small steps you can take to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
  • Living a Less Salty Life
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  • More to Consider than the Salt Shaker   
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  • Salt Matters: Preserving Choice, Protecting Health   
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  • Salt: “I Can’t Believe it’s Still Controversial”
    This 13-minute video highlights the link between sodium intake and hypertension, the DASH sodium trial, the challenges of measuring outcomes in sodium studies, why there’s still controversy surrounding sodium reduction, and food labels. Please note if you are not already a member of Medscape you will need to create a free account to view the video.