MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Julia Wolfson, PhD MPP
Department of Health Management and Policy
Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Over the past several years, Large chain restaurants in the United States have made some progress in introducing new lower calorie items on their menus. Since 2012, calories of items consistently on restaurant menus in all years have not significantly change. In this study, we examined the sodium content of restaurant menu items among 66 of the 100 largest restaurants in the US. We examined sodium content among items on the menu in all years (2012-2016) and among newly introduced items in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 compared to items on the menu in 2012 only.
We found that sodium content of menu items on the menu in all years did not change, but that restaurants were introducing new, lower sodium menu items. However, sodium content of restaurant menu items remains high. This is important because diets high in sodium are associated with serious adverse health outcomes including hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Though newly introduced items on restaurant menus are lower in sodium than items on the menu in 2012 only, restaurant food both among new items and among restaurant menu staples remain very high in sodium. A single main course item can easily account for half of the recommended daily allowance of sodium (2,300mg according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans). Therefore, consumers who are interested in limiting their sodium intake should ask for that nutrition information from restaurants. However, because restaurant food is so high in sodium, the best way to limit your sodium intake is to avoid restaurant and packaged/processed foods.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: It will be important for future research to continue to monitor the sodium content of restaurant food. In addition, examination of the sodium content of restaurant foods that consumers actually order as well as price differences between higher and lower sodium menu items will also shed light on the public health implications of restaurant foods.
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Trends in Sodium Content of Menu Items in Large Chain Restaurants in the U.S.
Wolfson, Julia A. et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
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