I applaud the American Heart Association for highlighting the toll that excessive sodium in America’s food supply is taking on our health. The association rightly embraces the current scientific consensus, which holds that most Americans should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day. We currently consume roughly twice this amount, simply by consuming food as it is packaged and sold in stores or served in restaurants. Excessive sodium intake is a leading cause of high blood pressure – a condition that affects more than a million New Yorkers and causes thousands of heart attacks and strokes in this city every year.

The nation’s current nutrition guidelines define 2,300 mg as a baseline for sodium consumption and recommend the lower 1,500 mg limit for certain higher-risk populations. These populations now make up 70% of the population. As the federal government prepares to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it should follow the recommendation of its own advisory committee and make 1,500 mg of sodium the daily goal for the general population. The public should know that for most people, consuming more than 1,500 mg each day is a health hazard.

The American Heart Association is a member of the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a national partnership spearheaded by the New York City Health Department. The NSRI has set targets to help food manufacturers significantly reduce sodium levels in their products over a five-year period. Twenty-two of the nation’s leading food makers have committed to meet the initiative’s sodium-reduction targets.

The NSRI now includes more than 60 cities, states, and national health organizations – including seven new partners. The new partners are the Arkansas Department of Health, the Broome County (New York) Health Department, the Cook County (Illinois) Department of Public Health, the Mississippi State Department of Health, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Wisconsin Heart Disease and Stroke Alliance.

Attribute to Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner: