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Although America has long had a love affair with salty foods, recent data from Chicago-based Mintel revealed that consumers are starting to pay more attention to their intake, with more than half (52 percent) watching the amount of sodium in their diets.
Meanwhile, food product introductions containing a low-, no- or reduced-sodium claim grew by almost 115 percent from 2005 to 2008, the company’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) found. Consumer awareness and the ongoing campaigns of public health organizations and consumer advocacy groups indicate that the switch to a lower-sodium lifestyle is gaining traction.
“The rapidly rising evidence in the past several years points out sodium as a major cause of hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney damage and stomach cancer,” noted 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.”
Mintel found that consumers are doing the following to address their sodium issues:
--22 percent limit the amount of salt that they add to food, but don’t monitor the much higher amount of sodium 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 check labels for sodium, and may make some decisions based on this information, but they’re not following a sodium-restricted diet
--34 percent pay no attention to sodium
The company additionally discovered that three out of four respondents who say they’re on a sodium-restricted diet also say that they “do not miss the salt.”