Working with the food industry to cut salt intake by nearly 10 percent could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over several decades and save the U.S. government $32 billion in healthcare costs, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
Eating too much salt is a major cause of high blood pressure, which the Institute of Medicine, one of the National Academies of Sciences, last week declared a "neglected disease" that costs the U.S. health system $73 billion a year.
Several governments are looking for solutions to curb salt intake as a way to head off future heart attacks and strokes that help drain healthcare systems.
The study by a team at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California used a computer model to measure the impact of two different scenarios for reducing salt intake on a population level -- a voluntary collaboration with the U.S. food industry and a national tax on salt.
They found the voluntary program, based on a similar salt-reduction campaign in Britain, to be the most effective.