241152 Sodium content of meals served at selected restaurant chains with more than twenty outlets in Los Angeles County

Monday, October 31, 2011

Patricia Cummings, MPH , Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Gloria Kim, MPH , Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Lauren Gase, MPH, CHES , Associate Director for Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Brenda Robles, MPH , RENEW LA County - Communities Putting Prevention to Work, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Obi Ogamba, REHS , Environmental Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Baldwin Park, CA
Kenneth Murray, REHS , Environmental Protection, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Baldwin Park, CA
Margaret Shih, MD, PhD , Epidemiology Unit, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Tony Kuo, MD, MSHS , Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Introduction: In 2008, California passed SB1420 requiring that restaurant chains with ≥20 outlets provide nutrition information, including sodium content, on restaurant menus starting in 2011. This study, conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, examines the average sodium content of meals offered by selected restaurant chains.

Methods: We randomly selected 4 fast food and 3 sit down restaurant chains for analysis. Sodium content was obtained from restaurant menus for 725 different meals (defined as an entree with a corresponding side dish, condiments, and drink, such as a combo meal which includes hamburger, fries with ketchup, and drink).

Results: The average sodium content for a meal served at a restaurant in our sample was 1,577 mg (1,344 mg for fast-food; 1,787 mg for sit-down). Chicken dishes, salads, and pizza had the highest average sodium content (mean=1,300 mg, 1,561 mg, and 2,705 mg, respectively).

Discussion: The average sodium content in one meal exceeded the limits recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) (2,300 mg for general population and 1,500 mg for blacks, middle-aged and older adults, and those with hypertension). The abundance of high sodium options suggest that, in order to reduce sodium consumption to the levels recommended by the DGA, public education on reducing sodium intake should be supported by policy and environmental changes such as food procurement and menu labeling policies. Such policies can help to increase consumers' access to low-sodium foods and provide incentives for food manufacturers to develop or offer lower-sodium food options.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the average sodium content of meals offered by a sample of fast-food and sit-down restaurants in Los Angeles County and assess the potential impact of excess sodium consumption on the publicís health. Differentiate and explain the importance of both individual-level approaches (e.g., education campaigns) and policy/systems changes (e.g., menu labeling) to reduce the populationís consumption of sodium. Describe the current restaurant food environment in Los Angeles County as restaurant chains begin to implement menu labeling.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I assist in managing three major CDC-funded grants in chronic disease prevention and evaluation. I am also a doctoral student working towards a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.