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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
to measure overall success and make adjustments as activities are informed by experience is critical.
In order to realize the potential, a national campaign focused on consumers and the reduction of sodium intake is needed. Key components to ensure the success of the campaign are:
a broad range of collaborative partners;
incorporation of behavior change models;
planning activities undertaken as part of a public process;
a strong evidence base to guide campaign planning and design to ensure the best use of campaign resources;
renewed efforts to develop effective and appropriate messages related to reducing sodium intake that include integration with broader messages about diet and health;
clear coordination with policy initiatives targeting changes in the food supply; and
periodic evaluation of campaign costs and effectiveness.
Several key factors are highlighted below.
Consumer-based initiatives to reduce sodium intake could benefit from the incorporation of behavior change models. The socioecological model provides a useful framework exploring the interacting multiple levels of influence and underscores the need to coordinate changes in the food environment, including changes in the food supply, with health communications aimed at individuals. Theories predicting the diverse factors influencing health behaviors, such as sodium intake, need to guide the development of health communications as well as research aimed at improving the effectiveness of these strategies. While it is accepted that knowledge and attitudes as well as access to resources are important starting points for behavior change, additional factors come into play to achieve such change. The nature of these factors for sodium, especially in the face of the compelling nature of salt taste, has not been clearly elucidated. Moreover, the operationalization of a model of behavior change for sodium intake reduction that would apply population-wide in coordination with and support of changes in the food supply is desirable.
In terms of education, three very basic needs are readily apparent. First, it is critical to dispel the prevalent misunderstanding that sodium intake is