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Am J Health Promot. 2009 Sep-Oct;24(1):49-57. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.080826-QUAN-164.

Potential societal savings from reduced sodium consumption in the U.S. adult population.

Author information

  • 1RAND, Pardee RAND Graduate School, 1776 Main Street, PO Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407, USA. kpalar@rand.org

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Policies that address the food environment at the population level may help prevent chronic disease, but their value to society is still uncertain. Dietary sodium is linked to increased prevalence of hypertension, a primary risk factor for cardiovascular and renal diseases. This study calculates the potential societal savings of reducing hypertension and related cardiovascular disease via a reduction in population-level sodium intake. On average, U.S. adults consume almost twice the recommended maximum of dietary sodium, most of it from processed foods.

DESIGN:

This study modeled sodium-reduction scenarios by using a cross-sectional simulation approach. The model used population-level data on blood pressure, antihypertensive medication use, and sodium intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004). This data was then combined with parameters from the literature on sodium effects, disease outcomes, costs, and quality of life to yield model outcomes.

MEASURES:

This study calculated the following outcome measures: hypertension prevalence, direct health care costs, and quality-adjusted life years for noninstitutionalized U.S. adults.

ANALYSIS:

The simulation was conducted with STATA 9.2 and Microsoft Excel. Survey weights were used to calculate population averages.

RESULTS:

Reducing average population sodium intake to 2300 mg per day, the recommended maximum for adults, may reduce cases of hypertension by 11 million, save $18 billion health care dollars, and gain 312,000 QALYs that are worth $32 billion annually. Greater reductions in population sodium consumption bring even greater savings to society.

CONCLUSIONS:

Large benefits to society may result from efforts to lower sodium consumption on a population level by modest amounts over time. Although savings in direct health care costs are likely to be quite high, they could easily be matched or exceeded by the value of quality-of-life improvements.

PMID:
19750962
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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