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Salt intake is strongly associated with obesity

A study published in the journal "Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases" refutes the frequently repeated claims that a comprehensive salt reduction would not produce any overall health benefits, or would even increase diseases and shorten the life-span.

Professors, Dr. Heikki Karppanen of the University of Helsinki and Dr. Eero Mervaala of the University of Kuopio report that an average 30-35 % reduction in salt intake during 30 years in Finland was associated with a dramatic 75 % to 80 % decrease in both stroke and coronary heart disease mortality in the population under 65 years. During the same period the life expectancy of both male and female Finns increased by 6 to 7 years.

The most powerful explaining factor for the favorable changes was the more than 10 mmHg ("point") decrease in the average blood pressure of the population. A marked decrease in the average cholesterol levels of the population also remarkably contributed to the decrease of heart diseases. The extensive use of drugs contributed less than 10 % of the observed decreases in blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases.

"To our surprise, the sales figures of the American Salt Institute divulged that salt intake increased more than 50 % in USA during 15 years from mid-1980s to the late 1990s", says Professor Karppanen. The study reports that the prevalence of high blood pressure, which had long shown a decreasing trend, turned to a marked increase concomitantly with the increase in salt intake.

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study is the close link between salt intake and obesity. The study reports that increasing intakes of sodium (salt) obligatorily produce a progressive increase in thirst. The progressive increase in the average intake of salt explains the observed concomitant increase in the intake of beverages which, in turn, has caused a marked net increase in the intake of calories during the same period in the Unit
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Contact: Dr. Heikki Karppanen
heikki.karppanen@helsinki.fi
358-400-307-488
University of Helsinki
1-Nov-2006


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