Context: Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and contributes to nearly half of all cardiovascular disease–related deaths in the United States. Even small reductions in sodium intake may lower blood pressure, help prevent the onset of hypertension, or help control blood pressure among hypertensive adults. Current nationally recommended strategies to reduce sodium intake include increasing public awareness about the amount of sodium added to processed and packaged foods and the health outcomes of a high-sodium diet.
Objective: To assess knowledge and behaviors related to sodium consumption among Shawnee County, Kansas, adults.
Design: Multicomponent survey, including random digit–dialed landline telephone interview, clinic-measured blood pressure, and a 24-hour dietary recall, conducted during April-November 2011.
Setting and Participants: Population-based sample of noninstitutionalized adults 18 years and older living in households with landline telephones in Shawnee County, Kansas.
Main Outcome Measures: Knowledge about food sources of sodium and the link between sodium intake and hypertension; consumption of foods away from home and selected high-sodium foods; and addition of salt to foods.
Results: Eighty-three percent of adults strongly agreed or agreed that most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods, and 93.0% thought that a high-salt diet could cause hypertension. Adults ate slightly more than 3 meals prepared outside the home per week, on average, and 1 in 4 adults added salt very often in cooking or preparing meals. Mean sodium intake among Shawnee County adults was 3508 mg per day.
Conclusion: Despite extensive knowledge regarding food sources of sodium and the link between sodium intake and high blood pressure, mean sodium intake among Shawnee County adults exceeds current recommendations. The Shawnee County Sodium Reduction in Communities Program is currently implementing interventions that support access to and availability of lower-sodium options in Shawnee County.