Excessive salt consumption accounts for an estimated 2.3 million deaths a year overshadowing the dangers of consuming sugary drinks.
Fifteen per cent of all deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related diseases throughout the world in 2010 were caused by eating too much salt according to research presented at the American Heart Association.
A recent Harvard study had found that sugary drinks contribute to the deaths of around 180,000 people annually, but these latest finding are much more worrying.
‘National and global public health measures, such as comprehensive sodium reduction programs, could potentially save millions of lives,’ said lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health Dariush Mozaffarian.
‘The burden of sodium is much higher than the burden of sugar-sweetened beverages.
‘That’s because sugar-sweetened beverages are just one type of food that people can avoid, whereas sodium is in everything.’
The researchers analyzed 247 surveys of adult sodium intake, stratified by age, gender, region and country between 1990 and 2010 as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, an international collaborative study by 488 scientists from 303 institutions in 50 countries around the world.
Nearly one million of these deaths – 40 percent of the total — were premature, occurring in people 69 years of age and younger.
Sixty per cent of the deaths occurred in men and 40 percent were in women. Heart attacks caused 42 percent of the deaths and strokes 41 percent. The remainder resulted from other types of cardiovascular disease.
Eighty-four percent of these deaths due to eating too much sodium were in low and middle-income countries, rather than high-income countries.