Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Salt preference, sodium excretion and blood pressure in normal adults

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  • The purpose of this study was to assess the amount of sodium in the diet of normal adults. The population consisted of 86 adults, 49 females and 37 males, who were participants in the Family Heart Study (FHS). Of this population 26 were studied during the baseline assessment period and were just entering the program. The remaining 60 people were studied after participating in the FHS for one year. Three methods were used to assess sodium intake: a salt questionnaire, a salt preference test and the sodium content of a 24-hour urine collection. The salt questionnaire consisted of questions to assess the frequency of intake of high sodium foods and the use of salt at the table and in cooking. The salt preference test was done using a baked potato salted to taste by the participants. The salt questionnaire and salt preference test were compared to the amount of sodium in a 24-hour urine collection. There was no relationship among any of these measures of salt intake. The urinary analysis for sodium indicated that the participants in this study had a moderately high sodium intake (143 mEq/day), similar to other studies in the U.S. Males excreted more sodium than females. The group assessed at baseline and the group assessed after one year in the study both excreted the same amount of sodium. The year one group had switched to Lite salt and reduced their use of salt during cooking; however, they used salty foods with the same frequency as the baseline group. The urinalysis demonstrates that the changes made by the year one group were not significant in reducing their salt intake. The amount of sodium excreted showed no relationship to blood pressure. This finding is similar to other studies in the U.S. because most people consume over 70 mEq sodium/day, which is above the proposed threshold to prevent hypertension. The genetic variability in the U.S. population obscures any relationship of sodium intake to blood pressure. Some of the major problems in assessing sodium intake are the variability from day to day and the ubiquity of sodium in our foods. It was concluded that urinary assessment of sodium was the best method available at this time, although multiple collections are necessary to compensate for the variability of sodium intake.
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