Within-country Variation of Salt Intake Assessed via Urinary Excretion in Japan: A Multilevel Analysis in All 47 Prefectures

Hypertens Res. 2017 Jun;40(6):598-605. doi: 10.1038/hr.2016.185. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Salt intake in Japan remains high; therefore, exploring within-country variation in salt intake and its cause is an important step in the establishment of salt reduction strategies. However, no nationwide evaluation of this variation has been conducted by urinalysis. We aimed to clarify whether within-country variation in salt intake exists in Japan after adjusting for individual characteristics. Healthy men (n=1027) and women (n=1046) aged 20-69 years were recruited from all 47 prefectures of Japan. Twenty-four-hour sodium excretion was estimated using three spot urine samples collected on three nonconsecutive days. The study area was categorized into 12 regions defined by the National Health and Nutrition Survey Japan. Within-country variation in sodium excretion was estimated as a population (region)-level variance using a multilevel model with random intercepts, with adjustment for individual biological, socioeconomic and dietary characteristics. Estimated 24 h sodium excretion was 204.8 mmol per day in men and 155.7 mmol per day in women. Sodium excretion was high in the Northeastern region. However, population-level variance was extremely small after adjusting for individual characteristics (0.8 and 2% of overall variance in men and women, respectively) compared with individual-level variance (99.2 and 98% of overall variance in men and women, respectively). Among individual characteristics, greater body mass index, living with a spouse and high miso-soup intake were associated with high sodium excretion in both sexes. Within-country variation in salt intake in Japan was extremely small compared with individual-level variation. Salt reduction strategies for Japan should be comprehensive and should not address the small within-country differences in intake.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / urine*
  • Young Adult


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary