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$1.9M grant given for sodium reduction initiatives

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention look for efforts from restaurants, schools

New York City and Los Angeles County are among five jurisdictions that have won a $1.9 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for sodium-reduction initiatives involving restaurants and schools.

The three-year grant, announced last week, will be split between New York City, Los Angeles County, Shasta County in California, Shawnee County in Kansas, and Broome and Schenectady counties in New York.

The goal is to implement at least one major sodium-reduction policy in each region and to evaluate the results, the Atlanta-based CDC said in a statement. Activities might include working with restaurants and food suppliers, grocery stores, schools, hospitals and government facilities to develop low-sodium food initiatives, or launching a media campaign to raise awareness about sodium in the diet.

“Sodium reduction is a public health imperative that would benefit everyone,” said Dr. Darwin Labarthe, director of the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “We must continue to build the public health capacity for reducing sodium consumption by working on strategies at the national, state and local levels.”

CDC officials said the grantees were still in the planning stages for the programs that might result, and details are not yet known.

Los Angeles County, for example, reportedly will launch a pilot program to monitor restaurant compliance with the federal menu labeling mandates, which will require chains of 20 or more to post calories and to make information about sodium content available, along with other nutrition data.

In Shasta County, state health officials reportedly plan to work with five restaurants to help them rework menu offerings to lower sodium levels.

Both counties also plan to work with schools to reduce the amount of salt used in food preparation there.

Federal dietary guidelines recommend that most adults with high blood pressure, those middle aged or older and African-Americans should limit sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams per day. Other adults should aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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