261206 Evolution of strategies for measuring sodium reduction in a local restaurant setting

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Yvonne A. M. Johnston, MS, RN, FNP , Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
Glynnis Hunt, MS , Schenectady County Public Health Services, Schenectady, NY
Jennifer Kahn, MPH, CHES , Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schenectady County, Schenectady, NY
June Schuldt, RN/BSN , Prevention Unit, Schenectady County Public Health Services, Schenectady, NY
The average sodium intake of Americans has been on a steady rise since the 1970's. With an increased intake of processed foods, dining out more often, and less involvement in preparing healthy foods at home, Americans now consume more than double the recommended amount daily. Today more than 75% of our dietary sodium comes from packaged foods and restaurants and 75% of all restaurant eating experiences are either fast food or casual dining.

To address these issues, Schenectady County Public Health Services is working to reduce sodium in meals served at independently owned restaurants. This presentation discusses lessons learned during the process of developing and implementing an evaluation tool for the Schenectady County (NY) Sodium Reduction in Communities initiative, a CDC-funded grant focused on sodium reduction through population level policy and environmental changes.

While developing tools to evaluate sodium reduction, Schenectady County experienced several challenges with respect to the type of data that could be collected from restaurants. In response to these challenges, Schenectady County is using an innovative approach through the development and implementation of a restaurant toolkit that assesses and scores a restaurant's menu, cooking techniques, and products. The toolkit is designed to assist restaurants to strategize and create an action plan for reducing sodium on a continual basis. Follow-up assessments will document changes made. The toolkit thus has a multi-pronged focus it will serve as a guide for the intervention, an educational tool, and as an assessment of short-term and long-term restaurant sodium reduction practices.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the purpose of the restaurant toolkit and why it was developed. 2. List challenges that may occur while trying to evaluate sodium reduction in a restaurant setting. 3. Evaluate independently owned restaurants utilizing the restaurant assessment tool.

Keywords: Evaluation, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as the program evaluator for Broome County on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention grant to New York State for Sodium Reduction in Communities. I will be presenting on behalf of Schenectedy County, at their request, information about the restaurant initiative and am familiar with their work by virtue of being a "sister" county on similar initiatives.
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.