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I was pleased to read recent research from Mintel showing we’re making some headway as consumers in the intake of sodium. My family is pretty split in the salt vs. sweet preference. While I try to keep my sweet tooth in check, the rest of my clan is constantly clamoring for the salty snacks. It’s interesting to see the generational shifts as well — my parents can’t sit down to dinner without the saltshaker and salt their meals prior to even tasting. In our house, we might have a saltcellar on the table with fleur de sel or kosher salt, and rarely do you see anyone but our salty 9-year-old reaching for the dish.
Mintel’s research illustrates Americans’ efforts — the data shows 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 change 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,” states David Lockwood, director of consumer insights at Mintel. “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 are consumers currently doing about sodium? Mintel sees four main types:
• 22 percent restrict the amount of salt that they add to food, but don’t watch the much greater amount of sodium that is in 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 they are not following a regimen to control sodium in their diet
• 34 percent do not pay attention to sodium
It helps that 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 that they “do not miss the salt.” Being able to cut back is critical, given that 70 percent of over-75 women and 80 percent of over-75 men are currently on medication for hypertension.
Mintel hosted a free webinar last week, called “Sodium: The next trans fat?” To hear the recorded session with Mintel’s David Lockwood and Krista Faron, senior analyst, register here: http://www.mintel.com/sodium_webinar/?utm_campaign=Sodium-Webinar&utm_medium=Email
Each week, we also post Heath & Wellness commentary on our blog — focusing on issues that arise that week or simply garner our editors’ attention. Join the conversation with us at Aisle Chatter by clicking here: http://aislechatter.com.