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NewsBites October 2012 Issue

Hospital Meals Flunk Salt Test

A stay in the hospital could be bad for your blood pressure—and not just because of the anxiety associated with hospitalization. A University of Toronto study finds hospital food is high in sodium, which is linked to hypertension risk. Researchers analyzed more than 2,300 daily menus at three acute-care hospitals in Ontario. When patients weren’t picking their own meals, 86% of daily menus topped the recommended maximum sodium intake of 2,300 milligrams and 100% exceeded the 1,500-milligram maximum for higher-risk individuals. Average daily sodium was 2,896 milligrams. Patients did marginally better when they got to pick the day’s meals, with 79% exceeding 2,300 milligrams and 97% over 1,500 milligrams. At least patients specifically on salt-restricted diets mostly got meals within recommended maximums. Diabetics, though, averaged 3,406 milligrams of daily sodium in menus selected by the hospital. Researchers concluded in Archives of Internal Medicine: “Our 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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