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Strategies ID'd for Cutting Sodium in Restaurant Meals

Strategies include use of menu certification programs, restaurateur training, incentivization

MONDAY, Feb. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Various strategies are available to help encourage restaurants to reduce the sodium content of food items, according to a study published Jan. 23 in the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease.

Noting that restaurants and food-service menu items make a significant contribution to sodium intake, Jessica Lee Levings, R.D., and Janelle Peralez Gunn, M.P.H., R.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, reviewed the strategies used to encourage sodium reduction.

The authors note that several menu certification programs are available across the United States and can encourage promotion of healthful menu items; restaurants that do not provide nutrition information tend to have higher amounts of calories, fat, and sodium. Training programs to address knowledge gaps can be used to help restaurateurs understand the importance of sodium reduction, and should be a requirement for restaurants applying for or renewing their license. Health departments with nutrition support should provide subject matter expertise to privately owned restaurants to help decrease sodium content of meals. Implementation of this program has been shown to encourage sodium reduction in participating restaurants. Incentivization, which is already being implemented in certain areas, could help with sodium reduction and provision of more healthful food options. Incentives could include reduced licensing fees. Group Purchasing Organizations can be useful for sourcing and procuring lower-sodium items.

"By supporting sodium-reduction efforts through systems and environmental changes, state and local governments may assist in providing a more healthful food supply, resulting in a healthier population," the authors write.

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