New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is on yet another health crusade — this time against salty soups. Hizzoner is spending $370,000 in city and federal funds on subway ads featuring salt spewing from a can of chicken and rice soup. “Too much salt can lead to heart attack and stroke,” the ads warn.
“I just can’t tell you how angry that gets me,” says Dr. Whelan. “The mayor is telling me not to eat soup?”
“Hypertension is a very serious problem, but it’s simplistic to blame it all on salt — much less one particular source of sodium such as soup,” says Dr. Whelan. “It would be more productive to use these city funds to set up screenings for city residents to more effectively detect high blood pressure and get more patients treated for this silent killer.”
Although the risk of hypertension rises with age, people actually aren’t consuming greater quantities of salt these days, says Dr. Ross. “The amount of sodium we crave and ingest is hardwired into our physiology. The average salt consumption is essentially constant across diverse populations. To ascribe high blood pressure to soup consumption is bizarrely simplistic. Some hypertensives are salt-sensitive, many are not. Advising salt-sensitive people to watch their sodium is reasonable — advising everyone to eat less soup is just weird, but consistent with some of the other off-base campaigns of this administration’s Department of Health.”