New York State Department of Health Receives Federal Funding to Help New Yorkers Reduce Salt Intake

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 21, 2016) -- The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) was awarded a five-year, $1.975 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program. The goal of the program is to implement and evaluate community-based strategies for reducing sodium consumption in early childhood education centers, universities and colleges in four New York State (NYS) counties.

Under this new grant, the NYS DOH will partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, Onondaga County Health Department and Rockland County Health Department. The three organizations were selected to work in four counties (Erie, Niagara, Onondaga and Rockland) that have a combined population of nearly 2 million people. The project will have the potential to reach 470,000 adults living with hypertension in these counties. This initiative will target children in early childcare education centers in order to help reduce the risk of future high blood pressure. By developing children's palates before they are fully mature, they can become accustomed to lower sodium foods. The program will also impact more than 46,000 students enrolled in targeted colleges and universities, who will be learning to make their own food choices as they start out on their path to adulthood.

"Consuming too much sodium from processed, prepackaged and away- from- home foods continues to contribute to high blood pressure and raises the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "This funding will enable us to reduce the risk of hypertension in these communities by replacing high sodium foods with healthier alternatives."

The agencies will work with universities, colleges and early childhood education centers in Erie, Niagara, Onondaga and Rockland counties to reduce the amount of sodium in meals served to students and employees. Implementing food service guidelines that include lower sodium builds on the success of two previous Sodium Reduction in Communities Program grants.

NYSDOH will also partner with the NYS Office of General Services and food service distributors that sell and distribute food products to establishments throughout the State. The counties are committed to working with their partners to implement effective sodium reduction strategies to increase the availability of lower-sodium foods being offered in these away-from-home venues. The project will work to highlight reduced sodium products so that purchasers can easily identify them.

"Reducing sodium intake can make such a positive impact on people's health," said Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito. "The Office of General Services is pleased to help by adding more lower-sodium options to state contracts that schools, nursing homes and other facilities use to purchase food."

Reducing sodium consumption is an evidence-based strategy that reduces the risk of hypertension and effectively manages high blood pressure in those who have been diagnosed. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in New York State, which are responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths a year.

In 2013, nearly one-third (32%) of adults in New York reported having high blood pressure However, a disproportionately higher percentage of African American adults reporting having high blood pressure (40%), significantly increasing their risk.

The communities to be served through this initiative were selected because of their high need, based on census data on race/ethnicity, educational attainment, poverty, and chronic disease burden, as well as their ability to implement the selected sodium reduction strategies. New York City communities will be served by a separate grant from CDC to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Although the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams per day for adults and children ages 14 years and older, the average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Most of the sodium comes from processed and packaged foods purchased in grocery stores, and foods eaten at restaurants and other venues outside the home. Many people say that lower sodium foods do not taste good. Studies have shown that when the amount of sodium in a product is gradually reduced, people often cannot detect the difference.

To learn more about New York State's chronic disease prevention and wellness projects, visit

To learn more about sodium and the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program visit