Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Invasions Continue

The invasions of your personal liberty by the nanny state continue.  Today it was announced that the FDA plans to limit the amount of sodium in food.  It's for your own good.  Think of the children. 

What's the problem?  Only that there is really no particular reason to reduce sodium consumption in the population as a whole.  There might be a small number of people who would benefit from it.  If there is, they should avoid salt.  The FDA wants the rest of the country to give up what they think tastes good for a small group of people who might be affected.

No, salt consumption does not raise blood pressure.  That's a myth that was disproven years ago.  I thought the final word was in 1997, if not before:

'Public health recommendations must be based on proof of safety and benefit. Even if a low sodium diet could lower the blood pressure of most people (probably not true) and both the diet and the change in blood pressure could be sustained (not established), this alone would not justify a recommendation to reduce sodium intake.
 'For such advice to be responsibly given there must be evidence that the change will improve and not impair health. While the advantage of a lower blood pressure, at any level, is well established, it is not true that every method to lower blood pressure would necessarily improve health. Some techniques to lower blood pressure, like giving short acting calcium antagonists, may not be safe.
'All interventions aimed at enhancing or extending life by manipulating a single mechanism inevitably produce a variety of effects, some of which may not be advantageous. Extrapolation from mechanistic thinking demands evidence that the sum total of all the effects of the intervention — and not just one, such as lowering blood pressure — will help and not harm; and particularly here since the target is the whole population.

'A low sodium intake produces many effects, not all of which are salutary. The integrated impact of these effects remains to be established. The scanty evidence directly linking sodium intake to morbidity and mortality is not encouraging.

'Unfortunately, we simply do not know whether a universal change in sodium consumption will cause benefit or harm. Insufficient evidence — for good or ill — is not a sturdy basis for making health policy. Gratuitous exhortation, reflecting the hopes of even the most well meaning authorities, is no substitute for data. Toward this end, a good start would be to collect and analyse further observational data linking sodium intake to subsequent morbid and fatal outcomes.'

'The important question that emerges from these papers is why the combined intellects of so many distinguished epidemiologists should maintain that the evidence incriminating salt in hypertension is so convincing when clearly it adds up to very little.'  Michael Alderman, President of the American Society of Hypertension, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine,Br Med J 1997; 315: 484-5 .  Linked from a good summary article at Second Opinions

Did you get that?  This Doctor, President of the American Society of Hypertension, said that we don't even know that if we tell the public to cut their salt consumption that it won't hurt them.  So the fed.gov can't even say, "cut your sodium because even if it doesn't help blood pressure, at least it won't hurt you"; we don't know that.  But the FDA is going to do it anyway.  

Mrs. Graybeard made the salient observation that we shouldn't call this a Nanny State.  A Nanny has the best interest of the kids at heart.  This shows the fed.gov doesn't really have our best interests at heart.

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