Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sodium Campaign Not Worth Its Salt? Study Uncertain on Change in Eating Habits: Sodium Campaign Not Worth Its Salt?

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sodium Campaign Not Worth Its Salt? Study Uncertain on Change in Eating Habits: Sodium Campaign Not Worth Its Salt?

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - An ad blitz to get people to reduce the salt in their diets may not have had much impact.

A government study couldn't tell whether the "Give Your Head a Shake" campaign changed any eating habits in a test case in eastern Ontario.

Local health centres in the Champlain region kicked off a campaign in August 2009 to try to persuade people in the area to consume less sodium. The federal government spent $194,000 to evaluate the results of that campaign.

The study looked at two groups of adults between the ages of 35 and 50. The Champlain group was exposed to the sodium campaign and a control group in a different town was not.

The "Give Your Head a Shake" campaign consisted of newspaper, television and radio ads. Registered dieticians also came up with dozens of "quick and easy" tips to reduce sodium, such as mixing olive oil, lemon juice and herbs instead of using bottled marinades, or adding your own seasoning to chicken.

At one point, researchers checked with the groups to see whether they had changed their diets in the last 30 days. They wanted to know if people had been sprinkling less salt on their food, or if they had even gone a step further and cut some sodium from their diets.

The people in the Champlain group reported adding less salt to their food in the previous month, while the control group did not.

But when it came to actually reducing sodium, neither group changed their eating habits in a meaningful way.

"There were no significant differences documented for participants reporting they reduced the amount of sodium they ate in the past 30 days," the study says.

The Canadian Press obtained the sodium report under the Access to Information Act.

A summary of the first year of the campaign found the Champlain study group seemed to be eating less salt. But it suggests people in Champlain who were not part of the study, but who were nonetheless exposed to the same ad blitz, did not change their eating habits.

"At the community level, there are no differences between the intervention and control community," the study concludes. …

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