Cutting the nation's salt intake could save the U.S. government $32 billion in healthcare costs, according to researchers.
Too much salt increases blood pressure leading to heart attacks and stroke. Recent studies show that reducing salt intake by 10 percent could prevent over half a million heart attacks, saving the country billions in health care costs.
"In our analysis, we found these small decreases in blood pressure would be effective in reducing deaths due to cardiovascular disease," Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler of the Veteran Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California told Reuters, whose study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heading up the National Salt Reduction Initiative. It aims to cut salt consumption by 20 percent over the next five years. It will target food manufactures and restaurants.
"A program in Britain to cut salt intake in foods has resulted in a 20 to 30 percent decline in salt in processed foods sold in stores since 2003," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Japan, Finland, Ireland, Australia and Canada have launched similar initiatives."