Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FDA Proposing Salt Limitations on Prepared Foods; Ignoring The 800 Pound Gorilla In the Room

The FDA is preparing to insert itself in to the great salt intake debate. The FDA wants to regulate the amount of sodium in prepared foods, claiming that it will reduce the levels of salt in prepared foods gradually over time because of its effect on public health.
The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.

The government intends to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to adjust the American palate to a less salty diet, according to FDA sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the initiative had not been formally announced.

Officials have not determined the salt limits. In a complicated undertaking, the FDA would analyze the salt in spaghetti sauces, breads and thousands of other products that make up the $600 billion food and beverage market, sources said. Working with food manufacturers, the government would set limits for salt in these categories, designed to gradually ratchet down sodium consumption. The changes would be calibrated so that consumers barely notice the modification.

Meanwhile, a group of retired military personnel warn of an ongoing obesity epidemic in the country that threatens national security because the pool of people who are medically and physically fit to serve in the US Armed Forces is being reduced because too many people are incapable of handling the physical rigors of doing their service.

This points to the real nexus of the obesity epidemic and public health that the nanny staters ignore.

It isn't the food that most people eat or the beverages they consume.

It is the sedentary lifestyle, where people act like sediment and exercise nothing more than a fickle finger on their remote control.

Exercise is the key to public health, but you can't tax that. You can't regulate and demand exercise, but you can tax sugared and carbonated beverages and you can tax and regulate salt intake.

So, even with all the food and beverage choices that people have, they still choose the easiest options, and they'll choose not to exercise (just as they haven't done for years on end). As the nation moved into a service-based economy, the physical demands for work have declined and that means that people are simply not exercising as they once did. The problems are prevalent in public schools as well, despite designing meals that are supposed to give the necessary daily allowances for calories, vitamins and minerals.

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