Educational tools and key messages
Most Canadians eat too much sodium. Increasing the awareness and education of Canadians on sodium and its impact on health will help to reduce the average sodium intake in Canada and contribute to decreasing Canadians' risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart and kidney disease.
Talking about Sodium
British Columbia's Ministry of Health, Dietitians of Canada, EatRight Ontario and Health Canada have worked collaboratively to develop, test and validate sodium reduction messages and tips with the public and dietitians. Focus group testing was conducted in cities across Canada. Their report will be available from Library and Archives Canada when complete.
The national sodium reduction messages and tips can be used separately and as required as you develop healthy eating resources to help Canadians reduce their sodium intake, such as fact sheets, bookmarks, web pages, Facebook and Twitter messages, distribution via your email listservs, updating existing materials, creating new materials, articles, newsletters, and presentations.
Sodium Reduction Messages
FACT: Sodium is found in salt.
- All types of salt are high in sodium.
- Kosher salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, gourmet salt and smoked salt all have about the same amount of sodium as table salt. They are not healthier choices.
FACT: We eat too much sodium.
- We all need some sodium, but most of us eat about 3400 mg of sodium per day. This is more than double the amount of sodium we need.
- Healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium per day. Healthy children need only 1000-1500 mg of sodium per day.
FACT: Eating too much sodium can be harmful to our health.
- Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.
- Eating less sodium can help you and your family stay healthy and feel your best.
FACT: Most of the foods we eat contain too much sodium.
- Over 75% of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods such as cheese, deli meats, pizza, sauces and soups.
- Packaged and ready-to-eat foods, fast foods, and restaurant meals are often high in sodium.
- Breads, breakfast cereals and bakery products also contain sodium even though they may not taste salty.
By using and integrating these sodium reduction messages and tips into your healthy eating activities in a consistent way, we can work together to improve Canadians' quality of life and overall health by decreasing the risk of hypertension and other nutrition-related diseases. Together, we will contribute to reaching the goal of reducing the population's average intake of sodium from 3400 mg to 2300 mg per day by 2016.
Use the key messages available on the Healthy Canadians website with your clients or adapt the messages into your own resources:
Use the interactive tool ' Sodium Detector', showing the sodium content in foods for practical information and tips on how to use % Daily Values to make healthier food choices.
Talking about nutrition labelling
Understanding nutrition labelling is important in making more informed food choices, including choosing products lower in sodium. The information found in the Nutrition Facts table may not always be easy for consumers to use or interpret. Since the implementation the Nutrition Facts table, Health Canada has focused its efforts on building Canadians' awareness of nutrition labelling and its importance in making more informed choices to maintain and improve their health.
Once widespread awareness was achieved, an education initiative to increase consumers' ability to use the Nutrition Facts table was undertaken in collaboration with Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC). The Nutrition Facts Education Campaign was launched in the fall of 2010 to help consumers better understand the Nutrition Facts table, and in particular the % Daily Value (% DV). Using the % DV is a quick way for consumers to know if a packaged food contains a little or a lot of a nutrient and helps them choose products lower in fat, sodium and sugar.
Use the Interactive Tools on nutrition labelling for practical information and tips on how to use % Daily Values to make healthier food choices.
The Public Health Agency of Canada provided support to Blood Pressure Canada (now Hypertension Canada) for the development of a knowledge exchange portal, and knowledge development and translation initiatives on dietary sodium reduction. Through this project, clinicians, scientists, policy makers and the Canadian public will have access to the most current scientific information on dietary sodium reduction.
Tools and resources
Various tools and resources have been created to increase awareness, help educate Canadians on sodium and its health effects, and teach Canadians about proper nutrition. These include:
- Healthy Canadians - sodium section
- Focus-tested key sodium messages available for use by all stakeholders
- Nutrition Facts education campaign (% Daily Value)
- Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide
- Mandatory nutrition labelling
- Conditions for "low in sodium", "salt-free" and "reduced sodium" claims
- A health claim linking low-sodium/high-potassium diets with a reduced risk of high blood pressure
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