In 2012, Costa Rica launched a program to reduce salt and sodium consumption to prevent cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors, but little was known about the level of sodium consumption or its sources. Our aim was to estimate the magnitude and time trends of sodium consumption (based on food and beverage acquisitions) in Costa Rica. Data from the National Household Income and Expenditure Surveys carried out in 2004-2005 (n = 4231) and 2012-2013 (n = 5705) were used. Records of food purchases for household consumption were converted into sodium and energy using food composition tables. Mean sodium availability (per person/per day and adjusted for a 2000-kcal energy intake) and the contribution of food groups to this availability were estimated for each year. Sodium availability increased in the period from 3.9 to 4.6 g/person/day (p < 0.001). The income level was inversely related to sodium availability. The main sources of sodium in the diet were domestic salt (60%) in addition to processed foods and condiments (with added sodium) (27.4%). Dietary sources of sodium varied within surveys (p < 0.05). Sodium available for consumption in Costa Rican households largely exceeds the World Health Organization-recommended intake levels (<2 g sodium/person/day). These results are essential for the design and implementation of effective policies and interventions.
Keywords: Costa Rica; Latin America; food consumption; policy; population intervention; salt; socioeconomic factors; sodium.