Poster Abstract| Volume 49, ISSUE 7, SUPPLEMENT 1, S79-S80, July 2017

The Effect of Low Sodium Policy in Congregate Meal Program: A Pilot Study


      Since 2014, the Older American Act Nutrition Program (OAANP) in Maryland has implemented a low-sodium policy for congregate meals, but no evaluation has been conducted. This study presents the findings of the low-sodium policy and discusses a possible senior center-based hypertension program while supporting the intent of the policy.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Using pre, post-study design, data were collected from hypertensive older adults who consumed congregate meals on a regular basis (n=67) before and after policy implementation. Paired t-test and Wilcoxon signed ranks test were used for data analysis.

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      The Block sodium screener and a structured questionnaire and were used to estimate dietary sodium intake and other hypertension risk factors including BMI, self-care behaviors, medication taking, and hypertension knowledge.


      A year after OAANP's low-sodium policy, average sodium intake was statistically significantly reduced (p<.001), 2329.7±177; 1021.9 mg and 1959.7±177; 1026.2 at pre- and post-survey respectively. Also, the proportion of older adults consuming ≥2,300 mg sodium was also significantly reduced (p= .002). At baseline, 97.5% participants took anti-hypertensive medication and about 40% participants still had uncontrolled blood pressure (≥150/90). A majority of participants (82.9%) were overweight or obese. Respectively, 68.4 and 65.4% ate less than 3-4 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit. As expected, these key hypertension risk factors haven't been changed at post survey. Also, average blood pressure tended to increase at post-survey, although it was not statistically significant (p=.06).

      Conclusions and Implications

      Utilizing a congregate meal program to reduce sodium intake for older adults is an effective strategy. To address hypertension related risk factors, however, further multifaceted intervention strategies are necessary.