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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: WHAT WE EAT IN AMERICA - DIETARY SURVEY: DATA COLLECTION, INTERPRETATION, DISSEMINATION, AND METHODOLOGY

Location: Food Surveys

Title: Monitoring sodium content of restaurant foods: Public health challenges and opportunities

Authors
item Maalouf, Joyce -
item Cogswell, Mary -
item Gunn, Janelle -
item Curtis, Christine -
item Rhodes, Donna
item Hoy, M Katherine
item Pehrsson, Pamela
item Nickle, Melissa
item Merritt, Robert -

Submitted to: American Journal of Public Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 28, 2013
Publication Date: July 18, 2013
Citation: Maalouf, J., Cogswell, M.E., Gunn, J., Curtis, C.J., Rhodes, D.G., Hoy, M.K., Pehrsson, P.R., Nickle, M.S., Merritt, R. 2013. Monitoring the sodium content of restaurant foods: Public health challenges and opportunities. American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301442.

Interpretive Summary: In the U.S., more than 90% of the population consumes excess sodium relative to guidelines. Given that the vast majority of sodium intake is estimated to come from packaged and restaurant foods, efforts to reduce the sodium content of these foods are ongoing. Monitoring the sodium content of packaged foods is feasible because of labels and databases; however, data on the sodium content of restaurant foods are more limited. This research reviewed the methods of selected studies that assessed the sodium content of restaurant foods to inform potential approaches to a national monitoring system. At present, there is no comprehensive private or publicly available data system that provides all of the information needed to monitor changes in sodium or other nutrients among restaurant foods. Combining information from different sources and methods may help inform a comprehensive system to monitor efforts to reduce the sodium content of the U.S. food supply and to develop future strategies.

Technical Abstract: Excess sodium intake is a major preventable risk factor for high blood pressure, a leading cause for heart disease and stroke. The majority of sodium intake comes from packaged and restaurant foods. At present, data on the sodium content of restaurant foods is limited. The purpose of this study is to review the methods of studies that assessed the sodium content of restaurant foods and the available nutrition databases. This review relied on systematic searches of the literature from 1964 to December 2012 and on manual examination of references in selected articles and studies. Twenty-six of the 499 (5.2%) articles found met the inclusion criteria and were abstracted. Of the 26 studies, 5 were conducted at the national level. The methods for determining the sodium content of restaurant foods included laboratory analysis (n=15), nutrition information at point of purchase or the restaurants' Web sites (n=8), and menu analysis using a nutrient database (n=3). At present, there is no comprehensive private or publicly available data system that provides all of the information needed to monitor changes in sodium or other nutrients among restaurant foods. Combining information from different sources and methods may help inform a comprehensive system to monitor efforts to reduce the sodium content of the U.S food supply and to develop future strategies.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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