The US government has released new dietary guidelines urging all Americans to cut their daily salt intake by one-third and those over 50 to make more drastic reductions.
"The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
"This is a crisis that we can no longer ignore," he added.
The guidelines, which are updated and published every five years, also urge people to eat less kilojoules and exercise more.
"The bottom line is that most people need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease," Vilsack said.
The new guidelines recommend reducing daily salt intake to less than 2,300mg, or one teaspoon, and urge further reductions to 1,500mg for people 51 and over and those with hypertension.
High intake of sodium
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that Americans currently eat 3,mg, or about a teaspoon and a half of sodium, which has been linked to hypertension and other cardiovascular disease.
Most of that sodium comes from processed foods, not the salt shaker, and the government has urged the food industry to cut back as well.
The guidelines also suggest that consumers cut back on fats, added sugars and refined grains while eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry and seafood.
They also suggest eating more reasonable portions and filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables, as well as drinking more water and less soft drinks. (Sapa, Febuary 2011)