Sodium: the situation in Canada

Chronic diseases are a major public health concern in Canada. A diet high in sodium is one of the top risk factors for chronic diseases such as:

  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2004, Canadians eat about 3400 mg of sodium per day. This is more than double the amount that we need.

Sodium intake in Canada

In the 2004 CCHS study we found that in Canada people aged 9 to 70 had sodium intakes above the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). This was true for over 85% of men and 60 to 80% of women.

We saw the same high intakes in young children: 77% of children aged 1 to 3 years and 93% of children aged 4 to 8 years exceed the UL for sodium.

This table lists the major contributors of dietary sodium in the Canadian diet.
Food category Percentage contribution (%)
Other 17
Breads, quick breads, and other bread-like products 14
Processed meats 9
Vegetable-based dishes, tomato and vegetable juice 9
Soups 7
Pasta-based dishes 6
Cheese 5
Milk products 4
Red meat-based dishes 4
Poultry-based dishes 4
Gravies and sauces 4
Pizza 3
Breakfast cereals 3
Potato-based dishes 3
Fish and shellfish dishes 2
Rice-based dishes 2
Potato chips and salty snacks 2

Note that some of these foods are high in sodium but consumed in lower amounts, like processed meats and gravies and sauces, while others are lower in sodium but are eaten in higher amounts, like breads.

(Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2, Nutrition [2004])

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