Lowering sodium consumption could save US $18 billion annually in health costs

Technology.am (Sept. 14, 2009) — Reducing Americans’ average intake of sodium could save the nation as much as $18 billion annually in avoided health care costs and improve the quality of life for millions of people, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

sodiumThe study estimates that meeting national sodium guidelines could eliminate 11 million cases of high blood pressure nationally and extend the lives of thousands of people each year.

The monetary value of the improved quality of life would be an estimated $32 billion annually.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, with lower amounts recommended for older adults, black patients and those with high blood pressure — groups that are at higher risk.

Palar and study co-author Roland Sturm, a RAND senior economist, using a cross-sectional simulation model, calculated that lowering sodium intake would trim a sizable portion of the $55 billion spent nationally each year to treat high blood pressure. About half of the $18 billion in annual health care cost savings would accrue to public sector health spending.

In addition, researchers estimated that meeting sodium consumption guidelines would save in one year 312,000 quality adjusted life years — a research measurement that adjusts increased longevity for the relative healthiness experienced during additional years of life.

Studies estimate that more than 75 percent of Americans dietary sodium intake comes from processed foods rather than from salt added during cooking at home or at the dining table.

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