Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hospital menus' abysmal sodium levels

Steve: After reading this study, one wonders if the hospitals really want you to leave!

An Archives of Internal Medicine study published July 16th demonstrated that hospital patient menus contain excessive levels of sodium: 86% of regular and 100% of diabetic standard-unselected menus exceeded the Upper Level (UL) of 2300 mg of sodium, and 100% of these menus exceeded the Allowed Intake (AI) of 1500 mg. Sodium levels in 2 sodium-restricted diets typically fell within prescribed levels; however, approximately half of all 2000-mg sodium-restricted menus exceeded that prescribed level when patients self-selected their food. This observation could have important clinical implications given the therapeutic necessity of sodium restriction in conditions such as decompensated heart failure. There are very few published data on the sodium content of hospital patient menus. 

The menus studied serve a large group of hospitalized individuals, many of whom are nutritionally vulnerable and/or have cardiovascular diagnoses for which sodium intake regulation is essential. Based on the growing reliance on prepared and processed foods in the hospital setting, the findings highlight the need for sodium-focused food procurement and menu-planning policies to lower sodium levels in hospital patient menus.

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