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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 31, 2014
Lesley Wigen, Public Health Nutritionist, Public Health & Social Services Dept. at (360) 867-2515 or WigenL@co.thurston.wa.us

County Health Department Launches New Sodium Reduction Project
County awarded three-year grant to help cafeterias and restaurants reduce sodium

Staff from the county's Public Health and Social Services Department met with their first food service establishment partner this week, which marked the start of the department's new sodium reduction project. The new Thurston County Reducing Sodium for Health project is a result of a three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is part of a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of sodium Americans consume in processed and prepared food. Thurston County will receive just under $60,000 each year in grant funds.

"I think people would be surprised to learn that most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and foods prepared at restaurants, not from the salt shaker on their table," said Lesley Wigen, a registered dietitian and the county's coordinator for the new sodium reduction project. The grant for the project will help Wigen provide no-cost assistance to cafeteria and restaurant owners who want to review their menu and get tips and advice for reducing the amount of sodium in their dishes. Earlier this week, Bienvenue Cafe at the Labor and Industries building in Tumwater signed on as the first cafeteria partner to receive the no-cost menu review.

Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Rachel Wood said, "Consuming too much sodium raises blood pressure, which can lead to a higher risk of having heart disease or a stroke—two of the leading causes of death in Thurston County. But it can be difficult to manage your sodium intake if it's already in the food when it's prepared. That's why we're really excited about this new project—it's a chance to partner with restaurant and cafeteria owners to reduce sodium and increase healthy food options throughout the community and improve our overall health as a community."

The average daily sodium intake for Americans is more than 3400 milligrams per day, yet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2300 milligrams per day. For adults and children with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, and for adults over the age of 50, the recommendation is no more than 1500 milligrams per day—less than half of the sodium Americans consume each day on average.

"One of our main goals this year for the Thurston County Board of Health is to continue the work we've done with the Thurston Thrives program to create a community where healthy choices are easy and accessible, and this new project is a big step in the right direction," said Thurston County Board of Health Chair Cathy Wolfe. "It's a voluntary program where cafeteria and restaurant owners can get free expert advice, and the result is a community where the consumer has more control over how much sodium they eat. Giving the people in our community more healthy options and more control over their own health choices—that's what we want."

The Thurston County Reducing Sodium for Health project is a partnership of the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department with the Washington State Department of Health, which oversees the grant.

To learn more about the Thurston County Reducing Sodium for Health project and get tips for reducing the amount of sodium in your diet, visit www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/personalhealth/chronicdiseaseprevention/ReduceSodium.html.

If you would like to learn more about getting a menu and food preparation review at your cafeteria or restaurant, contact Lesley Wigen at WigenL@co.thurston.wa.us or by phone at (360) 867-2515.

To learn more about the Sodium Reduction in Communities grant program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/programs/sodium_reduction.htm.


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3