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Take it with a pinch of salt

putting iodine in salt, public health experts say, may be the simplest and most cost-effective health measure in the world. Each ton of salt needs about two ounces of potassium iodate, which costs about $1.15.

Worldwide, about two billion people — a third of the globe — get too little iodine, including hundreds of millions in India and China. Studies show that iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Even moderate deficiency, especially in pregnant women and infants, lowers intelligence by 10 to 15 I.Q. points, shaving incalculable potential off a nation’s development.

The most visible and severe effects — disabling goiters, cretinism and dwarfism — affect a tiny minority, usually in mountain villages. But 16 percent of the world’s people have at least mild goiter, a swollen thyroid gland in the neck. NY Times

“Deadly sprinkles in lunches” and “cheese stick could be killing your children.”

We were told that we are feeding our children things that are going to cause heart attacks and strokes later in life and that the salty foods parents are allowing their children to eat are like feeding them “solid seawater for lunch.”

The evidence for these headlining claims was a recent study .. published in the journal Hypertension. The media echoed the CASH press release, saying this study proves that a modest reduction in salt intake among children can almost immediately cause significant falls in blood pressure, “which in turn could lead to major reductions in the risk of developing stroke, heart attacks and heart failure later in life.”
Their press release promised possible “massive population health gains.”

·But this study did not examine a single child.

·It conducted no clinical research to learn how much salt is needed or might be harmful for children.

·It offered no clinical evidence to know if a lower blood pressure reading of 1 point means anything for children’s health or is maintained as a child grows.

·It offered no proof that a blood pressure reading during childhood has any bearing on adult blood pressures or heart disease.

·And worse, it didn’t follow a single child to see if there were any health effects from the salt restrictions they are recommending.

In other words, this study offered no clinically meaningful evidence, only speculations. While controversy, debates and politics have surrounded salt recommendations for decades, as Gary Taubes outlined in the magazine Science, the body of evidence has not demonstrated that low-salt diets result in health benefits for the general population, nor that current salt intakes of Americans pose health risks for the general population. Even a recent Cochrane Library review of the evidence found insufficient information to know what effect salt reduction might have on health and mortality.

Of greatest concern is evidence suggesting that low-salt diets may actually be harmful for most people; increasing heart attacks, mortality and insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes).

Shouldn’t we have something tenable to go on before experimenting on an entire generation of children? I suspect most parents would think so.


I think I ought to go back to buying the Iodised Cerebos Salt - I stopped because it blackens the silver spoons so, but that is probably a small price to pay to prevent my children becoming morons. (I seem to remember that the word Moron comes from the inhabitants of a small village in the Jura mountains that suffered iodine deficiency and were therefore stupid - can't find confirmation via Google, am I right?)

Update: Thanks to a comment I realise it was Cretin - not Moron I was thinking of:

From the Wikipedia:"The term cretin was brought into medical use in the 18th century from an Alpine French dialect prevalent in a region where persons with such a condition were especially common ..Endemic cretinism arises from a diet deficient in iodine and has affected far more people worldwide and continues to be a major public health problem in many countries. Iodine is an essential trace element, necessary primarily for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Although it is found in many foods it is not universally present in all soils in adequate amounts. The soils of many inland areas on all continents are iodine deficient, and plants and animals grown there are correspondingly deficient. Populations living in those areas without outside food sources are most at risk for iodine deficiency diseases.

Iodine deficiency results in the impairments of varying degrees of physical and mental development. It also causes gradual enlargement of the thyroid gland, referred to as a goiter. It is being combatted in many countries by public health campaigns of iodine administration.

Endemic cretinism was especially common in areas of southern Europe around the Alps and was described by Roman writers, and often depicted by medieval artists. Alpine cretinism was described from a medical perspective by several travellers and physicians in the late 18th and early 19th centuries."

Though there is a village called Moron in the Swiss Jura mountains which is probably what confused me....


"Moron" is an ancient (and possibly modern) Greek word for idiot

I recall reading that congo pygmies were desperate for salt and would trade al manner of skins and act as guides to hunters just to get their tiny hands on some.

We could eliminate the leading cause of mental retardation by shooting every damned nutritionist and their gullible media enablers.

Alternate headline:
"Health Nazis full of shit - Shocker!"
I like David's solution above.

Drink milk - the iodine/iodide based antibacterials often used in disinfecting cows' teats and (though less commonly than in the 70's) in cleaning the milk lines contribute to a decent wedge of your RDA in milk (you don't need much.).
plot the results of all salt studies together and they'll cluster about the nul-trend for health vs. intake. Rather like omega-3, if you remember the reports a few months back.

If they put iodine in salt, who would vote or support MK Dons?

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