My Rant: Mayor Bloomberg’s Jihad Against Salt


The Mayor is a wily politician, who knows how to get the maximum bounce for health initiatives that don’t cost him any political capital (or actual capital, for that matter), and make him look health conscious. We already know he’s a total hypocrite, and doesn’t follow his own advice.

His campaign against salt exploits the easiest of targets, but does it rest on good science? We know that the prevalence of hypertension in the adult population (over 18) is approximately 20%.

Estimates of salt sensitivity among those suffering from hypertension range from 10 percent to 33 percent. So, let’s assume the higher figure. If 75 percent of the city’s population is over 18, and 20 percent of those are hypertensives, and 33 percent of that population is salt sensitive, that means the mayor is prepared to distort an entire food culture for the benefit of less than 5 percent of the population. And the figure is probably far smaller, since a large proportion of the hypertensives are medicated, and don’t need to worry about their salt. Is it worth changing the eating habits of the entire population for the small percentage that might be affected?

Of course, if the mayor were interested in a real health initiative, one that would force him to actually work for an objective rather than spout nostrums, he should go after the school lunch program. He’s made himself head of the school system, yet kids are still being served a diet of (salty) frozen pizzas and (salty) hot dogs. That’s something that he has putative control over.

In fact, other cities have targeted awful school lunch programs as the place where they can be most effective in changing the eating habits of the entire population, incorporating fresh vegetables from local farmers, and proving what we already know, that fresh foods can be delicious. Instead, Bloomberg has chosen to ignore what is right under his nose, in favor of a jihad against salt. It’s much easier to do that, and garners more free publicity, while allowing him to not lift a finger or spend a cent.