Objective: Globally, the Na consumption of most people exceeds the WHO recommendation. To be effective, salt reduction programmes require assessment of the dietary sources of Na. Due to methodological difficulties however, comprehensive assessments are rare. Here, we identified Na sources in the Japanese diet using a 4 d diet record that was specifically designed for Na source description.
Design: A cross-sectional study.
Subjects: Apparently healthy men (n 196) and women (n 196) aged 20-69 years.
Setting: The subjects were recruited from twenty-three of forty-seven prefectures in Japan.
Results: The proportion of discretionary Na intake in total Na intake was 52·3 % in men and 57·1 % in women, and was significantly lower in younger subjects. The two major food groups contributing to Na intake were seasonings such as salt or soya sauce (61·7 % of total Na intake in men, 62·9 % in women) and fish and shellfish (6·7 % in men, 6·6 % in women). The third major contributor differed between men and women (noodles in men, 4·9 %; bread in women, 5·0 %). Further, the contribution of each food group to total Na intake differed among age groups.
Conclusions: While individual efforts to decrease Na intake remain important, population approaches to reducing Na content in processed foods are already equally important and will assume greater importance in the future even in Japan, an Asian country facing a rapid Westernization in dietary habits.
Keywords: Diet; Generation; Japan; Sodium source.