AMA wants food warning labels to get Americans to eat less salt

Too much salt is bad for you, says the American Medical Association, which wants the U.S. food industry to help reverse the trend by reducing sodium in processed and restaurant foods by at least 50 percent.

In a new policy adopted Tuesday, the nation's largest association of doctors also pledged to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to develop warning labels for foods high in salt.

Labels featuring pictures of salt shakers bearing the word "high" and red exclamation marks might help consumers think twice about eating high-sodium foods that contribute to health problems including high blood pressure and heart disease, according to an AMA council report that prompted the new policy.

Foods that contain more than 480 milligrams of sodium per serving are considered to have high levels, the report said. That includes such common foods as hot dogs, some canned soups, a slice of packaged pepperoni pizza, an order of chicken chow mein and a cheeseburger, according to a food chart accompanying the council report.

On a voice vote, AMA delegates adopted the policy at their five-day annual meeting, which ends Wednesday. Getting the food industry to gradually reduce sodium content in foods by at least half over the next decade is the goal of the new policy.

The policy also calls for the AMA to ask the FDA to revoke the "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) status of salt. GRAS food includes such staples as sugar and pepper.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams daily, or less than about one teaspoon, but the average daily intake among U.S. adults is nearly double that amount, the report said.

The AMA report said there is overwhelming evidence that excessive sodium intake is a risk factor for hypertension and may be an independent risk factor for other cardiovascular problems.

More than 30 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease is the nation's leading cause of death, reports AP.


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