People around the world eat twice as much salt as they should, and this behavior translates into 1.65 million heart-related deaths per year, researchers said Wednesday.
Excess salt can cause high blood pressure, which is leading factor in heart disease and stroke, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Led by scientists at Harvard and Tufts University, the study combined data from 205 surveys of sodium intake in 66 countries around the world.
"These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide," said lead researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
"These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world."
The average level of global daily sodium intake in 2010 was 3.95 grams per day, nearly double the World Health Organization recommendation of two grams per day, the study found.
- Acquired taste -
Although salt intake was higher than it should be in all world regions, the numbers varied.
Regional averages ranged from 2.18 grams per day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51 grams per day in Central Asia.
Americans' average daily salt intake was 3.6 grams. The US government recommends limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 mg (2.3g) per day.
"The majority of Americans have acquired a taste for a sodium consumption by a high salt diet," said Kevin Marzo, chief of cardiology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York, who was not involved in the study.AFP