Stakeholder Discussion to Reduce Population-Wide Sodium Intake and Decrease Sodium in the Food Supply
A Conference Report From the American Heart Association Sodium Conference 2013 Planning Group*
Background—A 2-day interactive forum was convened to discuss the current status and future implications of reducing sodium in the food supply and to identify opportunities for stakeholder collaboration.
Methods and Results—Participants included 128 stakeholders engaged in food research and development, food manufacturing and retail, restaurant and food service operations, regulatory and legislative activities, public health initiatives, healthcare, academia and scientific research, and data monitoring and surveillance. Presentation topics included scientific evidence for sodium reduction and public health policy recommendations; consumer sodium intakes, attitudes, and behaviors; food technologies and solutions for sodium reduction and sensory implications; experiences of the food and dining industries; and translation and implementation of sodium intake recommendations. Facilitated breakout sessions were conducted to allow for sharing of current practices, insights, and expertise.
Conclusions—A well-established body of scientific research shows that there is a strong relationship between excess sodium intake and high blood pressure and other adverse health outcomes. With Americans getting >75% of their sodium from processed and restaurant food, this evidence creates mounting pressure for less sodium in the food supply. The reduction of sodium in the food supply is a complex issue that involves multiple stakeholders. The success of new technological approaches for reducing sodium will depend on product availability, health effects (both intended and unintended), research and development investments, quality and taste of reformulated foods, supply chain management, operational modifications, consumer acceptance, and cost. The conference facilitated an exchange of ideas and set the stage for potential collaboration opportunities among stakeholders with mutual interest in reducing sodium in the food supply and in Americans’ diets. Population-wide sodium reduction remains a critically important component of public health efforts to promote cardiovascular health and prevent cardiovascular disease and will remain a priority for the American Heart Association.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.