The New York City Health Department just launched an ad campaign encouraging consumers to purchase lower sodium packaged foods.
The ads will run through the month of April in subway cars, highlighting the large range of sodium in packaged foods. They encourage consumers to “Compare Labels. Choose Less Sodium.”
Nearly 90 percent of Americans consume too much sodium, much of which comes from processed food products, so comparing products at the grocery store is one of the first and most obvious ways consumers can cut salt. “Most of the salt in our diets comes from packaged food – food that may not even taste salty, such as bread,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “While we encourage companies to voluntarily reduce sodium in the nation’s food supply, there are steps every shopper can take now. Use labels to choose products with less sodium, a choice that could help reduce your blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Cutting salt intake lowers blood pressure, a major preventable risk factor for heart disease and stroke – two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Even people who do not have high blood pressure can benefit substantially by consuming less salt. Researchers have estimated that reducing daily sodium intake by 1,200 milligrams can prevent up to 92,000 deaths and save up to $24 billion in health care costs each year. Nearly 90 percent of people consume too much sodium.
Recent research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that adults are not the only ones eating too much salt. Children and adolescents are also eating too much salt. Reducing sodium intake during childhood can lower the risk of high blood pressure as an adult. Learning to read food labels and compare the sodium amount in similar products is a tool people of all ages can use to lower sodium intake and decrease the risk of high blood pressure.
Many of the nation’s food industry leaders have taken steps to make it easier for consumers to choose products with less sodium. Through the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), companies voluntarily reduced sodium in their products. The NSRI is a nationwide partnership of more than 90 city and state health authorities and organizations coordinated by New York City since 2009. The NSRI’s goal is to cut excess salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years – an achievement that would reduce the nation’s sodium intake by 20 percent. The list of food companies that voluntarily reduced sodium in their products to meet 2012 NSRI sodium targets are listed here and companies are encouraged to sign onto 2014 goals.
Consumers can obtain more information on how to reduce their salt intake by calling 311 to obtain a copy of the “Choose Less Sodium” Health Bulletin. The Health Bulletin outlines ways to cut the salt when shopping for food, eating at home, or eating out, such as:
This campaign is funded in part by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To view the “Choose Less Sodium” Health Bulletin and other information on how to reduce salt intake.