Reducing Americans' Salt Intake Can Save Health Costs

Less hypertension will reduce direct health care spending and improve quality of life
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing a population's sodium consumption can result in health care savings due to lower incidence of hypertension and can also bring quality-of-life improvements, according to a study published in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Kartika Palar and Roland Sturm, Ph.D., of RAND in Santa Monica, Calif., devised a model based on population-level data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1999 to 2004 on blood pressure, use of antihypertensive medication and sodium intake, combined with data on the effects of sodium, disease outcomes, costs and impact on quality of life.

If average population intake of sodium was reduced to the recommended daily maximum for adults of 2,300 mg, there would be 11 million less cases of hypertension, resulting in savings of $18 billion in health care costs and a gain of 312,000 quality-adjusted life years, the researchers found. They further note that benefits would be even greater if salt intake was reduced to below this level.

"This study is a first step towards quantifying the benefits of sodium reduction, and it should be emphasized that it needs to be combined with evidence on the effectiveness, costs, and benefits of specific strategies for sodium reduction in order to yield concrete, policy-relevant results," the authors write.

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