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Philadelphia starts Healthy Chinese Takeout Initiative for high blood pressure.In the latest of several efforts by major U.S. cities to improve the way people eat, Philadelphia has been running a city-wide program to get Chinese mom-and-pop eateries to lower the sodium content of their food.The city’s Healthy Chinese Takeout Initiative, “Less Salt, Healthier Eating,” began last year and already has 200 restaurants on-board. It aims to reduce the food sodium content by 10 to 15 percent.According to an Associated Press article, the organizers have targeted salt consumption, because of the large percentage of residents, especially African-Americans. Chinese restaurants are involved, because according to Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz, they are “an enormous industry” in the city, serving about 3 million meals a year. Their dishes are also “cheap and easily available, especially in low-income minority neighborhoods that often lack supermarkets and access to fresh produce.”Participants have made several changes, such as flavoring food with chilies or garlic instead of salt; using less sauce; distributing soy sauce packets only on demand; and posting nutrition information. Many restaurant owners themselves did not realize how much salt was in their food or how it affected their health.Steven Zhu, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, recruited participants by saying healthier food could attract more customers. Nevertheless, some declined as they were worried they’d lose business.The project is a joint-effort of the Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, the Center for Asian Health of Temple University, the Asian Community Health Coalition, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
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