Large-scale policy changes in the community have been very effective in public health movements, such as tobacco control. They offer several benefits:
Systemic change in a community's food and active environment
Broad reach toward all community members, including those disproportionately impacted
Flexibility to consider the community's needs
How can policy changes reduce sodium intake and make populations healthier over time?
We already know that most of the sodium we consume comes from processed, pre-packaged, and restaurant foods where we have little control over – and often limited knowledge of – the total amount of sodium used to produce these foods. These invisible amounts of sodium make it extremely difficult for even the most willing consumers to reduce sodium intake on their own.
Policy changes affecting procurement, retail, and vending can create a more favorable food environment that makes it easier for consumers to make healthy choices. With sodium restrictions in place, consumers will gradually decrease their sodium intake with little individual effort. Over time, sodium reduction policies can have a significant impact on reducing hypertension and improving the health of communities.
Policy changes that limit the amount of high sodium items in procurement, retail, and vending can lead consumers toward healthier choices and decreased rates of hypertension and heart problems.