Americans love salt and most consume considerably more than they should on a daily basis. Consumer research firm Mintel recently collected data showing consumers are starting to pay more attention to their intake, as more than half (52 percent) are monitoring the amount of sodium in their diets.
Meanwhile, food product introductions containing a low-, no- or reduced-sodium claim have increased by nearly 115 percent from 2005 to 2008, according to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD). Consumer awareness and the continued push from public health organizations and consumer advocacy groups suggest that the low-sodium movement is gaining steam.
“The rapidly rising evidence in the past several years points out sodium as a major cause of hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney damage and stomach cancer,” stated David Lockwood, Mintel's director of consumer insights. “Because of this scientific knowledge mixed with that of global health activists, there is a climate forming for rapid change. We are starting to see this information set into motion with a reduction in sodium on packaged goods and restaurant menus.”
What consumers are currently doing about sodium:
- 22 percent restrict the amount of salt they add to food, but don't watch the much greater amount of sodium already in processed foods and beverages
- 18 percent say that “food and beverages low in sodium are one of the three most important components of a healthy diet”
- 26 percent read labels for sodium, and may make some decisions based on this information, but are not following a regimen to control dietary sodium
- 34 percent do not pay any attention to sodium in their diet
Also, the craving for salt can truly be lowered over time. Mintel's research supports this, as three out of four respondents who say they are on a sodium-restricted diet also say they do not miss salt. Being able to cut back is critical, given that 70 percent of women older than 75 and 80 percent of men older than 75 are currently on medication for hypertension.