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Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31829d7b7c
Original Articles

Reducing Sodium Across the Board: A Pilot Program in Schenectady County Independent Restaurants

Schuldt, June BSN, RN; Levings, Jessica Lee MS, RD, LD; Kahn-Marshall, Jennifer MPH, CHES; Hunt, Glynnis MS; Mugavero, Kristy MSN, MPH, RN; Gunn, Janelle Peralez MPH, RD

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Abstract

Excess sodium intake can lead to increased blood pressure. Restaurant foods contribute nearly a quarter of the sodium consumed in the American diet. The objective of the pilot project was to develop and implement in collaboration with independent restaurants a tool, the Restaurant Assessment Tool and Evaluation (RATE), to assess efforts to reduce sodium in independent restaurants and measure changes over time in food preparation categories, including menu, cooking techniques, and products. Twelve independent restaurants in Schenectady County, New York, voluntarily participated. From initial assessment to a 6-month follow-up assessment using the RATE, 11 restaurants showed improvement in the cooking category, 9 showed improvement in the menu category, and 7 showed improvement in the product category. Menu analysis conducted by the Schenectady County Health Department staff suggested that reported sodium-reduction strategies might have affected approximately 25% of the restaurant menu items. The findings from this project suggest that a facilitated assessment, such as the RATE, can provide a useful platform for independent restaurant owners and public health practitioners to discuss and encourage sodium reduction. The RATE also provides opportunities to build and strengthen relationships between public health care practitioners and independent restaurant owners, which may help sustain the positive changes made.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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