Reducing heart disease risks by reducing excessive salt

Challenge


High-sodium diets increase blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. More than 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed food, including store-bought food and restaurant meals. On average, New Yorkers consume about 40 percent more sodium than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg.

Solution


Committed to cutting excessive sodium intake, the NYC Health Department leads the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) , which has been underwritten with extensive private and public financial support generated by the Fund. The initiative aims to reduce population sodium intake by 20 percent by setting sodium reduction targets for packaged food and restaurant food categories and encouraging food companies to commit to those targets. The NYC Health Department and its partners—more than 100 state and local health authorities and national health organizations—are working with major food companies to meet the target reductions. The Fund provided seed funding for the NSRI to build two unique databases to measure sodium levels in foods.

Results


Twenty-eight packaged food companies, supermarkets, and restaurant chains committed to reducing sodium in their products according to the NSRI framework. Most companies met their 2012 sodium reduction goals, and the NYC Health Department is in the process of measuring sodium changes in the food supply that took place between 2009 and 2014. As part of the Health Department’s broader strategy to reduce sodium, in 2015 NYC became the first U.S. city to require chain restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide to post warning labels next to menu items that contain high levels of sodium. In 2016, the FDA released draft voluntary sodium reduction targets for industry, which reinforce the work started by the NYC Health Department and its NSRI partners.

Contact


The Fund invites businesses, philanthropic organizations, and individuals to join us in making a significant impact on the health of all New Yorkers. Please contact our development team to learn about opportunities for supporting our work.