Salt And Food Politics: Marion Nestle Responds To Scientific American
Salt and Pepper shakers, image credit National Archives
I recently posted about Scientific American's article It's Time to End the War on Salt; I wrote Is It Time To End The War On Salt? In A Word, No, suggesting a link between salt and obesity. Food Politics author Marion Nestle didn't like the article either, and complained to Scientific American, who then interviewed her. Her key point was that in North America, it is pretty hard for anyone to be on a low salt diet that would make a difference.
She tells Scientific American:
It's impossible to put a population of people on a low-salt diet. Roughly 80 percent of the salt in the American food supply is in foods before people eat them--either in processed food or in restaurant food. Because so much salt is added to the food supply and because so many people eat out, it's impossible to find a population of people who are eating a low-salt diet. They basically don't exist.
She notes that there is a clear consensus that salt intake should be reduced, but acknowledges that it is hard to see results from it:
So from a public health standpoint, if you want to deal with the percentage of the population that seems to be extremely responsive to a low-salt diet what you want to do is get the sodium level in the food supply as low as you can. And that makes the people who sell salty food go nuts. And it makes the people who like salty foods go nuts. They think the food tastes bland. And so there are different stakeholders in this system who have very different views and that accounts for the level of passion, I think, in a situation where the science is murky.