Where’s the Salt? Purchasing of Lower Sodium Wholesale Products Made Easier

Topic Number: 
3

Background: The majority of the U.S. adult population consumes more than 2 times their recommended maximum of daily sodium. Higher consumption of sodium strongly increases the risk of having high blood pressure which currently affects nearly 1 in 3 adult Americans, the majority of whom do not have it under control. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death, as well as kidney disease. The vast majority of sodium consumed in the United States comes from restaurant and processed foods. Two scalable strategies to help reduce the amount of sodium in the American diet include: 1) reducing the amount of sodium in restaurant and processed foods and 2) informing the public about recommended sodium intake levels, the sodium content of the foods they purchase.

Currently for wholesale purchasers, there are no readily accessible non proprietary (or non commercial) datasets that provide nutritional value or food quality information, such as sodium, sugar or fat content of wholesale food products. High volume food purchasers need such tools to make seeking out and purchasing healthier food products easy and convenient.

Public Health Impact: Improving nutrition by reducing sodium intake is one of CDC’s Winnable Battles and one that will save lives. Recent research has advised that reducing sodium levels in packaged foods and restaurant foods in half would save tens of thousands of lives per year from fatal heart attacks and strokes. Reducing average population intake to the recommended 2300 mg per day may reduce cases of hypertension by 11 million and save $18 billion health care dollars. 

The nutritional datasets have the potential to be marketed to restaurateurs as well as to large food service providers in government, education, and business as a commercial product. There are over 500,000 private industry food and drink establishments in the US that could benefit from this tool. High volume food purchasers are key points of leverage in changing the nation’s food supply. By shifting purchases to healthier products, these businesses would not only provide healthier foods to their constituents, but send a powerful message to wholesalers that consumers demand healthier products.

Examples of specific research areas of interest include, but are not limited to: Develop an accessible nutritional information system for low sodium products to be used by restaurants and wholesale food purchasers. The system should include geocoding and a search tool. Elements of developing the nutritional information system may included identifying the structure and key variables in the food supply chain in the US, cataloguing the nutrient content of products available from suppliers, development of a web-based search tool to enable purchasers to search for vendors servicing their geographic area that provide lower sodium food products. Future use could be expanded to include information related to reduced fat, trans fat, calorie, and sugar products.

For NCCDPHP programmatic information, contact:

Brenda Colley Gilbert, Ph.D., MSPH

Director, Extramural Research Program Office

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mail Stop K-92

4770 Buford Highway, NE Atlanta, GA 30341

770-488-8390, Fax: 770-488-8046

Email:  HYPERLINK "mailto:bjc4@cdc.gov" bjc4@cdc.gov

Ms. Lata Kumar, MPH, MBA (for topic #1 only if occupational focused)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Mail Stop E74

1600 Clifton Road, N.E.

Atlanta, GA 30333

404-498-2530, Fax: 404-498-2569

Email: HYPERLINK "mailto:lkumar@cdc.gov"lkumar@cdc.gov

For grants specific, administrative information, contact:

Hector A. Buitrago

Team Leader/Grants Management Officer 

Procurement and Grants Office (PGO) - Branch III

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2920 Brandywine Road

MS E-09

Atlanta, GA 30341-4146

770-488-2921, Fax: 770-488-2777

Email: HBuitrago@cdc.gov