U.S. Has Saltiest Fast Food, Study Finds

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Despite the debate about the best method for reducing salt intake on a broad scale, all the experts suggest gradual changes. Diekman advocates teaching people to gradually decrease their salt intake so their palates can adjust to the change. Campbell believes companies should also progressively decrease salt content over several years so people may not notice the changes.

"Everyone can gradually get used to lower salt levels, come to prefer lower salt levels, and wind up with a far greater opportunity of loving foods -- that love them back," Katz said.

The Salt Institute, a North American non-profit trade organization, responded to the study by saying that taste preferences in different countries dictate how foods are made, meaning that salt, sugar and other ingredients will naturally vary.

Lowering salt content also "holds great risks for the public," argued Morton Satin, the Salt Institute's vice president of science and research. "The preponderance of peer-reviewed medical studies recently published, have cautioned against population-wide salt reduction, including the latest one demonstrating that anyone who follows the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for sodium will end up with a highly unbalanced and nutritionally inadequate diet."

The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that restaurants are attempting to reduce sodium content in their foods.

"The restaurant industry is actively engaged in efforts to provide consumers with lower sodium options; however, there are challenges not identified by this study, including availability of acceptable reduced sodium items in the supply chain, consumer variability in taste preference across the U.S. and among the various countries, regulatory constraints, as well as availability of new and existing alternatives to sodium," said Joy Dubost, the group's director of nutrition.

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