A new study finds more than 99 percent of the global adult population consumes nearly twice the amount of salt recommended by the World Health Organization. Too much salt - especially in soy sauce, spicy stews and processed food — is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Researchers from Tufts University found that adults in the 181 nations for which data were available, consumed an average of 3.95 grams of sodium daily in 2010. The WHO recommends that people injest no more than two grams of salt per day.
The global fondness for salt leads to an estimated 1.65 million deaths per year from diseases connected to excess sodium consumption. The study noted 40 percent of those deaths occur in individuals younger than 70. The vast majority of early deaths were in low- and middle-income countries.
Countries with the lowest salt consumption included Kenya, Cameroon and Gabon. Kenya had the lowest rate of death from heart disease and stroke.
The highest cardiovascular disease mortality rate was reported in Georgia, with almost 2,000 deaths per million individuals.
Experts say almost ten percent of all deaths from cardiovascular disease can be traced to salt consumption.
The lead author of the Tufts study, Dariush Mozzafarian, notes that rates of stroke are “enormous” throughout China, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The study on global salt consumption was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.