SOURCE: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health RENEW LA County Initiative

RENEW Los Angeles County

March 21, 2011 15:14 ET

LA County Urges Residents to Shake the Salt Habit

"Salt Shocker" Video Series Exposes Foods With Excessive Amounts of Sodium; Debuts During World Salt Awareness Week, March 21-27

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - March 21, 2011) - The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's RENEW LA County initiative today announced the launch of a new sodium awareness initiative, urging residents to be more proactive in monitoring their sodium intake and understand the health risks associated with excess sodium consumption. Because salt is abundant in many processed foods, sodium consumption is chronically underestimated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American consumes more than double the recommended daily amount of sodium, and residents of LA County are no exception.

The initiative will kick off with the debut of a "Salt Shocker" video series during World Salt Awareness Week, March 21-27. A new Salt Shocker video will be released each day for five days, revealing a common food or ingredient that many people would not suspect to be loaded with sodium. The one-minute videos will explain the dietary guidelines for sodium consumption, shed light on misconceptions, reveal hidden sources of sodium, and provide tips to help viewers reduce sodium intake.

Widespread excessive sodium consumption is of growing concern to public health professionals. Dietary guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. This recommended limit decreases to 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day for older adults, African Americans and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The CDC estimates that half of the U.S. population overall and the majority of adults should not consume more than the 1,500 milligram daily limit. Too much salt stresses blood vessels and, over time, causes the vessel walls to become thicker and narrower, requiring greater pressure to circulate blood to the organs and forcing the heart to pump harder against this high-pressure system. This causes high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke -- two of the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 100,000 deaths each year.

"The launch of this video series is a first step in helping residents of LA County go from salt-shocked to sodium-smart, empowering them with knowledge and resources to take greater control of their health," said Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. "The videos are an informative and engaging way for us to drive greater awareness and concern about excessive sodium consumption, and thereby continually improve the overall health and wellbeing of LA County."

The Salt Shocker video series will debut on Choose Health LA's YouTube channel and will be made available to share and embed across the Web. For more information on World Salt Awareness Week and Salt Shockers, connect with Choose Health LA online, which represents all of the public health efforts of RENEW LA County. Visit Choose Health LA on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA, on Facebook and at ChooseHealthLA.com.

The LA County Department of Public Health's RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness) initiative seeks to implement policy, systems and environmental changes to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity in LA County. RENEW LA County is made possible by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative.

The LA County Department of Public Health also received a grant from the CDC to specifically support sodium reduction strategies in LA County. Funded through the national Sodium Reduction in Communities program, this award will support several sodium reduction efforts in the region, including public education about the important health benefits of reducing salt.

The LA County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health, please visit publichealth.lacounty.gov or the YouTube channel at youtube.com/lapublichealth or follow Public Health on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.