Salt Wars

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About the Book

Salt Wars: The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet explains how the food industry and a small group of pro-salt scientists have successfully fought government efforts over the decades to reduce dangerous levels of sodium in our food. Their success has led to about $20 billion in unnecessary health-care costs and about 100,000 deaths per year due to preventable high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. According to an unpublicized government memo that Jacobson obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that the economic value of longer, healthier lives from lowering sodium consumption to about the recommended level would be $3.6 trillion over 20 years.

Jacobson then lays out a path to reduce sodium, mostly from salt, in the food supply to safe levels and, in the absence of action by government and industry, to enable consumers to cut salt on their own.  

About the Author

Michael F. Jacobson, who holds a PhD in microbiology from MIT, is well-known for his nutrition advocacy that helped eliminate artificial trans fat from the food supply, expose the enormous calorie counts of movie theater popcorn and many restaurant foods, and make Nutrition Facts mandatory on food packages. 

Beginning in 1978, Jacobson has informed the public about the dangers of high-sodium diets and waged a campaign to persuade industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to lower sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods. Those efforts led to a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report calling for mandatory limits on sodium.  

Jacobson has been honored with the FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation and Harvey W. Wiley Medal, the Food Marketing Institute’s Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation’s Hero Award.

Advance Praise for Salt Wars

Salt Wars includes a foreword by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who called the book “a thorough, clearly written, masterful analysis. Jacobson’s voice—methodical, passionate, plainspoken—comes through clearly in these pages.”

“For anyone confused by these arguments, Salt Wars is a must-read.”

“Public health authorities advise eating less salt as a way to prevent high blood pressure, but a few scientists disagree,” said Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, New York University and author of Let’s Ask Marion. “For anyone confused by these arguments, Salt Wars is a must-read. Michael Jacobson has been fighting these wars for decades, and his assessment of the research on both sides—and the policy implications—is exceptionally fair, balanced, and fascinating.” 

“Michael Jacobson started a movement that inspired Americans to question what was in the food they eat and to make it safer and healthier,” said former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose health department worked closely with Jacobson on salt and other issues. “Through his tireless devotion to science and public health, he helped save many lives, and the success he achieved will benefit generations to come.”

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