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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
Plan or the MyPyramid Menu Planner tools. There is a footnote3 in the MyPyramid Menu Planner explaining that sodium cannot be accurately calculated using the tool because sodium levels can vary so much within a single food and it is difficult to estimate consumers’ discretionary salt use.
Further, in 1995 USDA initiated sodium standards for 10 commodity food categories in its Commodity Distribution Program targeted to school meals (USDA, 1995). Starting in 2004, it implemented sodium reduction efforts into the HealthierUS School Challenge4 and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children programs (USDA/FNS, 2007).
In parallel with federal efforts aimed at sodium reduction strategies, efforts by professional and health associations to develop and disseminate information about organization goals and recommendations have also been used to create awareness. Sodium reduction initiatives were started by the American Heart Association in 1973 and the American Medical Association in 1979 and have continued to the present. Their recommendations urge the public to aim for lower sodium intake (Havas et al., 2007; Lichtenstein et al., 2006). Other groups such as the American Public Health Association and the American Dietetic Association have also been active in promoting sodium reduction messages.
Many government-based initiatives have called on the industry and other stakeholders to assist consumers in reducing their sodium intake. Consumer advocacy groups, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), have spread the message of the importance of reducing salt in the diet. Further, online health information sites are accessible sources of health information for many Americans. The food industry has included information on sodium and health on its websites. For example, Campbell’s5 and Kellogg’s6 have information on healthy sodium intake on their websites, and General Mills is a partner in sponsoring the Eat Better America website, which contains sodium and health information.7