Abstract| Volume 45, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S7, July 2013

Lessons Learned from Planning and Implementing Sodium Reduction Strategies with Independent Restaurants


      To share lessons learned from public health partnerships with independent restaurants in sodium reduction efforts.

      Target audience

      Public health departments, Independent restaurant owners.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      Restaurants are an important venue for population-based sodium reduction strategies as they generally have more sodium per calorie compared with foods from stores, have avenues for influencing procurement and meal preparation, and present opportunities to build relationships with nontraditional public health partners.


      In 2010, CDC launched the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program to reduce sodium intake by implementing community-based approaches. Health departments in 3 diverse US communities collaborated with independent restaurants to implement sodium reduction approaches in independent restaurants.


      Evaluators conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews with program staff and partners and conducted a cross-site thematic analysis. These interviews explored the implementation process and lessons learned. Respondents identified several lessons learned from working with independent restaurants to reduce sodium. These include: 1) involving individuals with restaurant and food industry expertise; 2) finding cost effective ways to reduce sodium content; 3) making gradual reductions in the sodium content of menu items; 4) labeling lower sodium items in positive terms (e.g., ”heart healthy,” “sodium friendly”).

      Conclusions and Implications

      Although working with independent restaurants to implement sodium reduction efforts is a new and challenging endeavor, restaurants do offer the potential to affect the sodium intake of a large segment of the U.S. population. Reducing the sodium consumed by restaurant-goers can also help to increase demand for lower sodium products on the part of suppliers.


      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.