Reducing Sodium Content of Foods Served in Arkansas’s Largest School District: Evaluation of the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program
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Reducing Sodium Content of Foods Served in Arkansas’s Largest School District: Evaluation of the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program

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English

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    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Purpose and Objectives

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Sodium Reduction in Communities Program aims to reduce dietary sodium intake through policy, systems, and environmental approaches. The objective of our study was to evaluate changes in sodium levels over 5 years (2016–2021) in food served in school lunches as an outcome of a Sodium Reduction in Communities program in Arkansas’s largest school district.

    Intervention Approach

    We collaborated with Springdale Public Schools (SPS) to reduce dietary sodium intake in school lunches through increased implementation of 1) food service guidelines, 2) procurement practices, 3) food preparation practices, and 4) environmental strategies. These activities were maintained from year 1 through year 5. Implementation priorities were informed each year by evaluation findings from the preceding year.

    Evaluation Methods

    We collected lunch service records and information on nutritional content of menu items for the 30 schools under the direction of SPS’s Child Nutrition Department. We used a pretest–posttest quantitative evaluation design to analyze annual changes in the sodium content of meals, from baseline through year 5.

    Results

    From baseline through year 1, SPS reduced sodium served per diner, per entrée offered, and per entrée served. These reductions were maintained from baseline through 5 years of follow-up. Mean sodium per 1,000 kcal per diner served was 1,740 mg at baseline and was lower in each of the 5 follow-up years: 1,488 mg (14% decrease) in year 1; 1,495 mg (14% decrease) in year 2; 1,612 mg (7% decrease) in year 3; 1,560 mg (10% decrease) in year 4; and 1,532 mg (12% decrease) in year 5. Energy served per diner remained stable.

    Implications for Public Health

    Our study provides evidence for sustained sodium reduction strategies in a large ethnically and socioeconomically diverse school district, pointing to the potential benefit of implementing similar strategies in other school districts. The study also shows how program evaluation can be used to support sustainability.

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  • Pubmed ID:
    36048736
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC9480841
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