Taking it with a pinch
15,000 'at risk' after U-turn on salt in food - Times Online
BRITAIN'S food watchdog was accused last night of endangering the lives of 15,000 people a year after backing down on strict guidelines designed to limit the amount of salt in food.
Health campaigners were furious at the decision by the Food Standards Agency to publish revised targets to cut salt in 85 types of food products by 2010
Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at St George’s hospital, London, believes that if we reduce our salt consumption from the current 9.5g a day to below 6g, it will result in “the biggest improvement in health since the introduction of clean water in the 19th century ”.
MacGregor says there is overwhelming evidence that a high-salt diet contributes to medical problems including heart disease — the cause of 50% of British deaths. A reduction of 3g a day in our intake would, he believes, save 35,000 people from death by stroke each year. ....
We are doomed!
"Where is your evidence?" we sceptics cried. Well, CASH have now published it on their web site, and a delectable item for number watchers it is. Not only is it based on that most dubious of constructions, a meta-analysis, it also depends on a creative bit of line-fitting that will delight collectors. On this basis they are now claiming reductions in the virtual body count of over 50,000. The data are actually of blood pressure and excreted salt, so it requires a further creative leap to convert this to dietary salt and bodies. Just look at the Trojan Numbers:
The best way to study the dose-response relation between salt intake and blood pressure is to look at the blood pressure responses to several levels of salt intake for a long term. So far, there are only 2 well-controlled trials that studied 3 salt intakes, each for 4 weeks. One is our double-blind study in 19 patients with untreated essential hypertension, and the other is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)- Sodium study,18 in which 79 untreated hypertensives and 116 normotensives were studied on the normal American diet, and 81 untreated hypertensives and 121 normotensives were studied on the DASH diet.
Despite the overwhelming nature of this evidence from well-controlled studies on as many as 79 people, it is inevitable that some number watchers will prefer to listen to infidels such as.. Numberwatch...
Maybe, just maybe, it is "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be enjoying themselves" as the philosopher HL Mencken once defined Puritanism, that drives these health fascists.