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No Matter The Strategy, Cutting Sodium Content Would Save Billions In Healthcare Costs

March 1, 2010: 04:20 AM EST
Two strategies could save billions of dollars currently spent on treating heart attacks and strokes in the U.S.: voluntary sodium reductions by food companies and sodium taxation, according to scientists who used a computer simulation based on British data. Adults currently aged 40 to 85 years would suffer 514,000 fewer strokes and 480,000 fewer heart attacks over their lifetimes – saving $32 billion – if voluntary industry efforts reduced sodium intake by 9.5 percent. Sodium taxation itself would cut intake by six percent, saving $22.4 billion. The study also found that reducing salt content and taxing sodium would extend lifespans – by 2.1 million and 1.3 million years, respectively. Researchers cautioned about unintended consequences: “Sodium reductions may lead persons to consume more fats and sugars or simply more calories, leading to other health risks,” they said.
Crystal M. Smith-Spangler, MD, et al, "Population Strategies to Decrease Sodium Intake and the Burden of Cardiovascular Disease A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis", Annals of Internal Medicine, March 01, 2010, © American College of Physicians
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