Alyssa Virnig ’2013


Has Pressure to Reduce Salt Consumption Put Us at Risk for Iodine Deficiency? 

Introduction: Iodine is an integral part of the structure of thyroid hormone in the body. Companies began to iodize table salt to increase iodine consumption in 1924 and by the 1950's about 70% of households only used iodized salt (1,2). In 2008, only 1/5 of the salt sold in the United States was iodized. Iodized salt dramatically reduced the rate of iodine deficiency and goiter (3). The pressure to decrease salt consumption may be putting the U.S population at risk for iodine deficiency today because of decreased discretionary salt use (4).

Purpose: To investigate ad libitum salt use, more specifically iodized salt use, and selection of high iodine foods in college students. To investigate the use of iodized salt in college food service, area restaurants and campus apartments.

Methods: The use of iodized salt was determined in 31 local restaurants and 107 campus apartments. About 890 students completed an online survey regarding salt use and food selections.

Results: Seventy-three percent of apartment residents were unaware of the type they use. Approximately 86% of CSB/SJU students reported using iodized salt in an online survey however; only 61% of CSB/SJU students had iodized salt in their apartments. Only 21% of students reported using saltshakers while at the dining center. Less than 1% of students reported consuming three of the best five sources of iodine 3 or more times per week.  Sixty-three percent of restaurants reported using iodized salt.

Conclusions: Over 2/3 of students were unaware of what type of salt they use demonstrating their lack of knowledge regarding iodized salt. The difference between student's reports of iodized salt use and actual iodized salt use reveals a lack of awareness when purchasing salt. The iodine status of students may be in jeopardy because of the limited number of students using the saltshaker when consuming a meal, the fractional use of iodized salt in area restaurants and the insignificant number of students consuming food sources naturally rich in iodine.


•1)     Leung, A. M., Braverman, L. E., & Pearce, E. N. (2012). History of U.S. iodine fortification and supplementation. Nutrients, 4, 1740-1746

•2)     Markel, H. (1987). "When it Rains it Pours": Endemic Goiter, Iodized Salt and David Murray Couwi, MD. American Journal of Public Health , 77 (2), 219-229.

•3)     Dasgupta, P. K., Liu LIU, Y., & Dyke, J. V. (2008). Iodine Nutrition: Iodine Content of Iodized Salt in the United States. Environmental Science and Technology , 42, 1315-1323.

•4)     Campbell, N., Dary, O., Cappuccio, F. P., Neufeld, L. M., Harding, K. B., & Zimmermann, M. B. (2012). Collaboration to optimize dietary intakes of salt and iodine: a critical but overlooked public health issue. Bulletin of The World Health Organization , 90, 73-74.

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Has Pressure to Reduce Salt Consumption Put Us at Risk for Iodine Deficiency?

Research Advisor: Amy Olson, PhD, RDN, LD