The American Heart Association (AHA) is cheering the USDA’s recent memo detailing the next phase of lowering the sodium content of school menus. The memo, which was sent to those responsible for administering school meal programs, provides detailed information about how to meet target two of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a final rule published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) intended to improve the health of America’s school children. The rule established new, science-based nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP).

Why reduce sodium?

Excess sodium consumption can, over time, lead to heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure – the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. In China, high blood pressure is the leading cause of preventable death, responsible for more than one million deaths a year.

"Absolutely critical"

“Reducing children’s daily salt intake is absolutely critical to their future health and success,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “Science clearly supports lowering sodium to moderate levels in the foods kids eat at school. Young people are consuming too much and without reasonable sodium reduction, they are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to premature heart disease, stroke and other chronic health issues.”

Brown said the detailed information in the memo will go a long way in helping schools around the country achieve the second phase of sodium reduction in the foods they serve their students.