Canada Wages War Against Sodium Levels

Canada Wages War Against Sodium Levels

For many of us, food is a source of comfort, as it is cheaper than other vices and provides us with the feeling of satiety, especially after a particularly sinful meal. Would seeing the number of calories deter you from eating junk food and force you to make better choices?

A new Canadian study suggests that if a restaurant were to put nutritional information on its menu, more consumers would feel obliged to do their bodies justice and eat healthier. The study shows that 75 percent of Canadians would like to see the calories and sodium content on menus. According to the University of Toronto, doing so would save 474 calories and 1,360 milligrams of sodium each meal.

According to these findings, more Canadians want to see nutritional menus and they believe that it would shock them into making healthier food choices. This is according to the lead author of the study, Mary Scourboutakos.

She also added that legislation only requires food chains to disclose calorie information and this could be a missed opportunity on their part, as it is important to address the problem of high sodium levels in restaurant offerings. Please note that in some parts of the United States, restaurants and fast food chains are made to disclose their calorie information, and this trend is slowly moving its way to Canada.

Although global health officials are encouraging people to decrease their sodium intake, the laws that might have forced restaurants to reveal the sodium content of their meals has not gained any traction. Toronto Public Health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Ontario Medical Association have asked for the menus to include sodium.

According to the senior author of the new research, Dr. Mary L’Abbé, they found that at least 17 to 30 percent of people changed their order into something healthier, after they looked at the nutritional information. This survey was done at a hamburger restaurant, a sub shop, a sit-down dinner restaurant and a breakfast joint. When consumers made a change to their order, it was due to the “shock and disbelief” at the sodium levels in the dish that prompted them to change their minds.

In University of Toronto’s previous research, they discovered that a majority of Canadians support a handful of salt reduction strategies. Consumers want the food industry to lower the salt levels in their products, they wish to have warning labels on foods which exceed healthy salt intake and they would like policies to ban meals with too much salt in nursing homes, schools and daycare centers.

University of Toronto and the University of Guelph researchers asked more than 2,600 Canadians all over the country, in order to get a pulse on where the people stand with regard to salt reduction policies.

As it turns out, a whopping 80 percent are intent on throwing their support behind the government’s intervention to reduce salt intake.  One should point out that 67 percent are people who have high blood pressure and older people, as they need to take better care of their health.

They feel that the food industry should lower the amount of sodium that they add to their products and add warning labels to food which have high sodium content, like canned food and processed meat. They want the government to implement a maximum level of salt allowed in grocery stores, packaged goods and restaurant fare.

The Canadian populace would also like daycares, schools and nursing homes to develop a maximum allowable sodium limit. This is because studies show that Canadians are consuming too much of this unhealthy seasoning, to a point wherein their intake has reached 3,400 mg a day at most. This is almost double the healthy daily intake, which puts them at risk for hypertension and other cardiovascular problems.

It is shocking to note that only 16 percent of Canadians know that the maximum salt intake a day should be around the range of 1,500 to 2,300 mg. Thus, since most are not aware of this, they are more likely to suffer various heart-related diseases.

People in the United States have become empowered to make the right choices as more restaurants are providing them with nutritional information and including the amount of sodium used. This is why people are making better decisions, regarding their daily meals.

Restaurants like Seasons 52, IHOPYard House and Olive Garden have their nutritional charts posted online, making it easier for people to make the right food choices long before they go to the establishment of their choice, which is a smart move on their part and definitely safer for their customers.

This sort of transparency makes people want to patronize establishments more often, as even those on strict diets can pick foods to suit their nutritional requirements. This may force restaurants to provide healthier food options as well.

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