Does Sodium Knowledge Affect Dietary Choices and Health Behaviors? Results From a Survey of Los Angeles County Residents
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Does Sodium Knowledge Affect Dietary Choices and Health Behaviors? Results From a Survey of Los Angeles County Residents

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      In 2010, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health launched a local sodium-reduction initiative to address the rising prevalence of high blood pressure (hypertension) and related cardiovascular conditions in the population. To inform this effort, we evaluated self-reported knowledge and health behaviors related to sodium intake among Los Angeles County residents.


      We administered 3 cross-sectional Internet panel surveys on knowledge about dietary sodium to a sample of Los Angeles County adults, at intervals from December 2014 through August 2016. Multinomial and logistic regression models were constructed to describe associations between sodium knowledge and self-reported health behaviors.


      A total of 7,067 panel subjects clicked into the online survey, and 2,862 completed the survey (adjusted response rate = 40.5%). Only 102 respondents (3.6%) were able to accurately report the recommended milligrams of sodium that an average adult should consume daily (1,500 mg to 2300 mg). Knowing about daily sodium intake recommendations was associated with increased odds of using Nutrition Facts labels to make food purchase decisions (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 3.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.59–7.60) and with decreased odds of taking measures to prevent hypertension (AOR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.19–0.74).


      Los Angeles County residents had a limited knowledge of recommended daily sodium intake. Efforts to increase understanding of these recommendations may encourage wider engagement in healthy behaviors. Health agencies should integrate sodium reduction messages in their diet and nutrition educational efforts.

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