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Raising awareness for a salt-free Ottawa

Salt levels in restaurant meals “alarmingly high” – legislation needed, says researcher

By Jim Oldfield, University of Toronto

“There is an urgent need for legislation that requires both calorie and sodium information on restaurant menus,” says Mary L’Abbé

University of Toronto researchers have found that a large majority of Canadians want nutrition information on restaurant menus – and that many would use it to make healthier food choices.

The researchers surveyed more than 3,000 people and found three-quarters want to see calorie and sodium information when they dine out. Those who used the nutrition information on menus saved up to 474 calories and 1,360 mg of sodium per meal. Health Canada recommends a daily intake of 2,000 calories depending on age and sex, and its recommended limit for sodium is 2,300 mg.

“These findings show that Canadians want to see nutrition information on restaurant menus and that having this information will help them make healthier choices,” said Mary Scourboutakos, a doctoral student in U of T’s department of nutritional sciences and lead author on the study. “Legislation that only requires disclosure of calorie information may be a missed opportunity to address the high sodium levels in restaurant foods.”

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