Considering Sodium Intake Reduction Strategies in South Carolina

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH), in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), brought together stakeholders to discuss and develop an informational brief entitled Considering Sodium Intake Reduction Strategies in South Carolina.  The purpose of the brief is to increase awareness about the role of sodium intake in population health and outline sodium reduction strategies in South Carolina.

Data provided by the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) show that 4 out of 5 South Carolina residents did not know the recommended guidelines for sodium consumption and 41 percent did not know processed food has more sodium than non-processed food.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a diet with excess sodium can lead to health problems including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Reducing sodium intake is an important component of creating healthier eating habits and can lower blood pressure which can lead to a decrease in the risk for hypertension.  It is estimated that reducing daily sodium intake by 1,200 milligrams can prevent up to 92,000 deaths and save up to $24 billion in health care costs each year, nationally.

Teresa Hill, Healthy Eating Consultant, from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control stated that “sodium reduction is an important public health issue for South Carolina.  Most South Carolinians consume too much sodium.  Excessive amounts of sodium in the diet lead to increased blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.  The recently released report, Considering Sodium Intake Reduction Strategies in South Carolina, helps to increase public awareness of the amount of sodium in processed and packaged foods, helps to increase public awareness of the health outcomes of consuming a high sodium diet and provides evidence-based strategies for reducing sodium intake to benefit the citizens of our state.”

The brief includes information related to chronic diseases associated with sodium intake; success stories from South Carolina and surrounding states related to nutrition guidelines for schools, menu labeling, multi-faceted sodium intake reduction strategies and recommendations to reduce sodium in our food supply.

“Improving access to healthy, delicious and affordable food such as fresh fruits and vegetables can have a significant impact on the amount of sodium in one’s diet,” states Amy Splittgerber, Executive Director of Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina and member of the Movers & Shakers Sodium Intake Advisory Committee.  “Eat Smart, Move More SC is focused on strategies to make healthier choices easier to make throughout South Carolina.  This report highlights successful initiatives and strategies that support this focus and provides consensus goals to guide future sodium reduction efforts in SC.”

The short term goals include involving a multitude of government agencies and stakeholders in sodium reduction practices.  This includes modeling practices after other successful initiatives, encouraging communities to improve their overall nutrition systems and promoting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet in a way that fits the southern palette.  Partners in this process are interested in introducing a Resolution to South Carolina’s General Assembly that would call for increased awareness of the health impacts of excessive sodium intake.  The long term goals developed include establishing specific recommendations for food purchased by state agencies and creating legislative approaches for reducing sodium in food sold in South Carolina.

Following the March publication of the brief, in April 2013 the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a resolution (H. 3879) to raise awareness of the danger of excessive salt intake to the health of South Carolinians.  This resolution was sponsored by Representatives Bakari Sellers (D – Bamberg) and John Richard King (D – York) and points out that consuming excessive amounts of sodium is associated with high blood pressure.

Click here to view the resolution.

Download the Report: “Considering Sodium Intake Reduction Strategies in South Carolina”

Page first published: March 2013
Page last updated: August 2013


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