Broome County Shakes Down the Salt
BINGHAMTON, NY – The Broome County Health Department is pleased to announce a three year grant award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support policy strategies that will create healthier food environments and reduce sodium intake in the Broome County community. Broome County, along with Schenectady County, is part of a state coordinated effort led by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). The NYSDOH is one of five state and community grantees across the nation.
Broome County will receive $120,000 per year until 2013, for sodium reduction activities that will consist of a social marketing and media campaign, working with schools to reduce the sodium content in meals, and increasing the availability and sales of lower sodium products in grocery stores, especially in high need areas of the county. The goal of the initiative is to create the demand for the food industry to gradually lower sodium content in products.
The Institute of Medicine reports that on average, Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and certain groups should limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day:
- Persons 40 years of age or older,
- African Americans, and
- Individuals with high blood pressure.
These groups comprise nearly 70 percent of the U.S. adult population. The CDC suggests that most of the salt we consume comes from processed and restaurant foods, both of which make it difficult for the majority of people to maintain a low sodium diet.
So what is all the “hype” about? Studies have shown that high salt intake is a major contributor to “hype”rtension” or high blood pressure which is a leading cause of stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease along with heart and kidney failure in the United States. The American Journal of Health Promotion indicates that reducing the average salt intake to the current dietary recommendations of 2,300 mg per day could reduce the cases of hypertension by 11 million and save $18 billion in health care dollars. Other research shows that reducing the salt intake of the adult population to 1,500 mg per day could prevent 16 million cases of high blood pressure and save an estimated $26 billion per year in health care costs.
“Broome County continues to suffer disproportionately from premature cardiovascular diseases that are preventable with better nutrition and physical activity,” said Broome County Public Health Director Claudia Edwards. “We need to educate, inform and empower our residents, especially our priority populations, to consume healthier food and create the local ground swell that will begin to move the food industry to reformulate their products with a lower sodium content,” Edwards further stated.
According to the New York State Vital Records, Broome County sees a high mortality rate for premature deaths associated with all cardiovascular diseases (128.9 per 100,000 compared with a state rate of 108.3 per 100,000) and stroke (37.5 per 100,000 compared with an age-adjusted mortality rate of 29.1). Even more alarming is hospitalization data from the New York State (NYS) that indicates African-Americans in Broome County experience dramatically higher rates of hospital admissions for cardiovascular conditions. The hospital admission rate for hypertension among African Americans in Broome County is twice that of comparable counties. In addition, according to the NYSDOH 2008-2009 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, Broome County demonstrates a higher rate of self reported hypertension compared to the rest of the State (30.9% vs. 26.8%). Broome County residents also report a high burden of adult overweight and obesity at 61.9% and the Broome County Steps Youth Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey shows 24.7% of high school students consider themselves overweight or at risk for overweight.
The Broome County Sodium Reduction in Communities grant seeks to mobilize community partners to enhance and expand policy, systems and environmental changes that will increase fruit and vegetable consumption, lower salt intake and impact the burden of cardiovascular diseases associated with high salt intake. To strengthen support for the mobilization efforts, the Broome County Health Department has joined the National Sodium Reduction Initiative (NSRI), which is a coalition of cities, states and health organizations working to help food manufacturers and restaurants voluntarily reduce the amount of salt in their products. The goal of the NSRI is to reduce Americans' salt intake by 20% over five years.
“Licking” the salt habit in Broome County will require full community support and effort on everyone’s part. In the inspirational words of Morton Salt, “When it Rains, it Pours.”
For more information about the CDC National Sodium Reduction in Communities Grant, The National Sodium Reduction Initiative and the Institute of Medicine’s Sodium Reduction Strategies and Approaches go to:
Institute of Medicine. Report on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake.
Institute of Medicine. A Population-Based Policy and Systems Change Approach to Prevent and Control Hypertension. Committee on Public Health Priorities to Reduce and Control Hypertension in the U.S. Population.