Reducing sodium levels could save healthcare industry $40B: AHA

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The FDA released new voluntary sodium targets for commercially processed foods Oct. 13, a move the American Heart Association applauded and said could save the healthcare industry $40 billion.

The FDA final guidance provides short-term goals to trim sodium levels for food manufacturers, chain restaurants and food service operators for 163 categories of processed foods, the agency said in a news release.

Over the next 2 1/2 years, the FDA said it hopes to reduce sodium intake by 12 percent from 3,400 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams per day.

Although the AHA supports the move, it said more needs to be done.

"The FDA's targets represent an important step forward, but lowering sodium intake to 3,000mg per day is not enough," the AHA said in a news release. "Lowering sodium further to 2,300mg could prevent an estimated 450,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, gain 2 million quality-adjusted life years and save approximately $40 billion in health-care costs over a 20-year period. We urge the FDA to follow today's action with additional targets to further lower the amount of sodium in the food supply and help people in America attain an appropriate sodium intake."

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